Winter is quickly approaching and now is a good time to get your vehicle ready for the winter season.  A few simple checks can help ensure that you won’t break down in the snow and ice and will help keep you safe while driving in winter conditions.

  • Check your windshield wipers.  They only last for about 1 year and should be replaced regularly.
    • Make sure your windshield washer reservoir is filled with an anti-freeze type washer fluid.
    • Make sure your wipers are turned off whenever you park your car.  Leaving them on when they are frozen to the windshield can cause damage to the wiper motor.
      • A good tip is to leave them up over night so they cannot freeze to the windshield
      • Another tip is to put a blanket between the windshield and wipers to keep them from getting stuck to the windshield.  This also helps keep ice from building up on your windshield.
  • Check the condition of your engine coolant (anti-freeze) using a coolant tester.
    • Flush & refill if necessary.
    • Check the condition of radiator and heater hoses for cracks or leaks.
  • Check the condition of your battery as well as the condition of the battery cables.
    • A load test can be performed to ensure your battery is in good working condition.
    • Keeping your vehicle battery fully charged will ensure it starts on those cold winter mornings.
  • Inspect the underside of your car looking for leaks and checking for anything that looks loose and should be repaired.
    • Check exhaust system for leaks.  If you’re stranded and running your car to keep warm carbon monoxide can build up in your vehicle if  leaks are present.
  • Inspect your vehicles brakes.  Even braking with all 4 wheels will help keep you from sliding on slick roads while stopping.
  • Remove debris from the air plenum below the windshield and in any other place that debris collects such as a sun roof or trunk lid.
    • Leaks or corrosion can occur as debris begins to decompose and causes rust.
  • Tires should have M+S or All Season tread and be in good condition.  In some parts of the country snow tires are common and may be a good idea.
    • Check your tire pressure.  When it gets cold the air pressure in your tires will get lower.  A tire will lose roughly 1 pound per 10 degrees when it gets cold.
    • Check to see that each tire valve has a cap on it to keep water and ice out.
  • Keep a survival kit in the trunk.  Include things like:
    • Blankets , sleeping bag, warm clothing, gloves, ski mask, long underwear, boots.
    • Water and snacks such as candy, raisins, nuts, jerky.
    • Source of heat such as a candle, can heater, hand warmers.
      • Matches – some lighters won’t work if they get too cold.
    • Knife, container for melting snow for drinking water
    • Radio, flashlight,  extra batteries
    • Phone and external power source for charging.
    • Jumper cables, tire chains, bucket of sand.

For more suggestions on what to keep in your vehicle during winter travel, and for winter travel tips, check out the North Dakota Department of Transportation recommendations at : http://www.dot.nd.gov/divisions/maintenance/winter-preparation.htm