Jack Frost has officially set up shop here in the States, and we’ve never been happier that our uniforms include gloves. Winter’s frosty bite is notorious for bringing out the worst in our cars, whether it be under the hood or on the road. But, don’t worry, our experts at Caliber have bundled up a few friendly reminders on cold-weather car care to make sure your vehicle’s performance doesn’t drop with the mercury.
Keep Headlights Top-Of-Mind
January’s shorter days mean one thing – longer nights. And, as obvious as that sounds, many drivers don’t think about the increased importance of headlights during winter. For many of us, the sun is almost down by the time we’re headed home from work, and if there’s one thing rush hour traffic could do without, it’s faulty headlights. Make sure to periodically check before driving to make sure your headlights, taillights and blinkers are all shining bright.
Batteries Can Go Out Cold
While we’re on the topic of electricity, let’s follow that wire back to the source: your battery. We’ll save the chemistry lecture for another time, but let’s just say cold weather means trouble for older car batteries. At 0° F, your car battery is left with only half its usual cranking power, meaning weaker batteries won’t perform even the most basic functions after an overnight cold front. Do yourself a favor and get your voltage professionally tested. If your battery is more than four years old, we’d recommend replacing it to avoid the classic stranded-in-a-cold-parking-lot scenario.
De-Frost with a Top-Off
Speaking of juice, now’s also the perfect time for an oil change. Why? Because motor oil thickens when cold, and your engine has to work that much harder to circulate old oil. An oil change is also a great way to prevent several other issues. In one fell swoop, you can replace your oil, oil filter, wiper fluid, antifreeze, and even grab a hot cup of joe if you’re getting it all done in the shop. Throughout these colder months, keeping your fuel levels above half full is a good idea because it will prevent water from building up in your fuel pump, allowing you to stay warm on the off-chance you find yourself stuck.
Don’t Slip Up on Tires
It’s not just what’s on the inside that counts when it comes to winter car care. You also want to make sure you’re riding on well-kept tires are the only difference between a road and a skating rink. Cold temperatures cause the air in tires to condense, leading to lower pressure, which ultimately means less traction and increased wear. First things first: check your tire pressure before heading out on cold days. Even if they pass the eyeball test, if your tires are even slightly under inflated, that’s an accident waiting to happen. Also take this time to evaluate the tires themselves. The penny test is a great way to see if you need new tires, and replacing them with snow tires will save you more than a few pennies in the long run.
Keep Your Cool in Emergencies
Even with top-notch engines, headlights, fluids and tires, we all know accidents can come out of nowhere. And, like the old saying goes, “expect the best but prepare for the worst.” That’s why we strongly encourage keeping a simple emergency kit in your cabin to combat winter’s icy antics. This kit should include an ice scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, battery-powered radio, snacks, first aid kit, and emergency flares/reflectors. Sure, it may seem like a lot, but when it comes to battling the cold from the roadside, there’s no such thing.
Whether you’re in for a short commute or a cross-country expedition, you can never be too prepared in these situations, and you can never have too many resources if winter unleashes its worst while you’re on the road. As always, if you do find yourself sliding into an unforeseen situation, know that our team will be right here to restore the rhythm of your life and make sure you don’t get left out in the cold.