Okay, I realize I am a little late to the party with this one – however, you know what they say: Better late than never! In this week’s post, we’re going to take a look at three simple ways to prep your car for a safe and trouble-free winter.
Now, this post idea came to me as I got into my car this morning and started it up to a 3-degree morning. I figured that there are a few really good tips that people could be using to make sure that their car is safe and handles the winter months with ease. Let’s get into it!
Tip Number 1: Replace the Wipers on Your Car
Your windshield wipers take a beating during the winter. They have to sludge off snow, ice, and salt, and they are a huge factor to your safety in the winter. Imagine you’re driving at night and you get caught in the middle of a brutal snowstorm. It’s coming down hard and you can barely see, so you put on your wipers. What happens? They leave massive streaks all over your windshield, making it nearly impossible to see out of. This is dangerous, but can easily be avoided. Head over to your local Wal-Mart, Advanced Auto Parts, Autozone, or retailer of choice, find the correct size wiper(s), and replace them. There are tons of YouTube videos on how to do this, and it is one of the simplest things you can do!
Depending on the size, each wiper can cost between 5 and 15 dollars. I recommend using whichever ones are listed as “OEM Replacement”. This takes the guessing out of the size and model you should use – just get exactly what it says. For my car, the OEM replacement happened to be the Rain-X Latitude wipers. They were just under 9 bucks each, so I got a brand new set of wipers on my car for under twenty bucks (just in time for a brutal snowstorm, I might add).
Tip Number 2: Change Out Washer Fluid
Depending on the brand and type you purchase, some windshield washer fluid may not have any de-icing properties. By changing out your washer fluid to a de-icing version, you will be able to melt ice that builds up on your windows overnight in no time. Also, try to find a fluid that resists re-freeze. There have been many times where I cleaned off my windows with de-icing washer fluid (and my new wipers, of course), and as soon as I started moving, my windows re-froze. It’s very frustrating if you’re running late in the morning, and can be downright dangerous if you try to drive after the windows have re-froze. Do some research and try to find a brand that offers de-icing and resistance to re-freezing. A gallon bottle fills most reservoirs and doesn’t usually cost more than $5.00.
Combine this with your new wipers, and there won’t be a single snow-storm that can stop you (at least from seeing)!
Tip Number 3: Prepare Your Engine With Heet
Heet is something that I just discovered this year, and after doing a bit of research, I have been using it faithfully in my car every time the temperature gets below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Basically, it’s an additive that you put into your engine when you fill up. It prevents any water or moisture that may be within your fuel lines and system from freezing. If water does get into your fuel lines and it freezes, your fuel lines could freeze, which could result in your car not starting.
Obviously, that is a very bad thing.
I usually only use Heet when it’s cold – and I mean cold. the temperature is above 20 degrees, I don’t get too concerned. However, on the days like today (and a few other this past winter), where I have woken up and started my car to temperatures below zero degrees without wind-chill, you can bet yourself that there’s a bottle of Heet running through my fuel system.
The best part is, it’s not really even that expensive. It costs about $5.00 for a four-pack at Wal-Mart, and so-far, mine has lasted me a few months (you use one entire bottle for each tank of gas, so it’s basically five bucks for four tanks of gas – remember, I don’t really use it unless it’s really cold). Little price to pay for an added peace of mind that my car will start when I need it.
Another tip to make sure that you don’t run into the issue of freezing fuel lines is to never let your car’s fuel level get below half way when it is extremely cold. This prevents moisture from building up within the fuel tank, making it less likely for water to freeze in your fuel lines.
Tip Number 4: Check/Replace Your Tires
Let’s just say, wrapping your car around a telephone pole during the first snowstorm of the year is not the way you want to find out you needed new tires.
Tires are often underappreciated by drivers, but the truth is, they are one of the most important safety features our cars have. A good set of tires can be the difference between getting home safe or slipping and crashing into a ditch. While the ideal solution is to switch out your tires to a set of winter/snow tires, this isn’t practical for a majority of the population, especially us frugal folks who either can’t afford or don’t want to budget a second full set of tires.
At a minimum, you should make sure that whatever tires you do have on your vehicle have enough tread left to safely get through the winter. There are many ways to check on your own (you can Google them), but if you want to be totally certain, take your car to a local mechanic or repair shop. I can’t imagine they’d charge you for checking, but even if they do and they discover you desperately need new tires, a small fee is a lot less than repairing a wrecked vehicle.
Tip Number Five: Check/Replace Your Brakes
Your brakes are also something can make the difference between an accident and making it home safely. Unfortunately, although doable, it is a bit harder to check your brake pads and rotors at home. Thus, I would recommend going to a professional for a visual inspection. Once again, it probably won’t cost you anything, and it’ll either provide you with a greater peace of mind or save you from a future accident if your brakes need to be replaced.
Going for an inspection and finding out you need new brakes is much better than trying to stop during a snowstorm and rear-ending the guy in front of you.
If you make sure you do these five easy tips, your car will be prepared for the coldest and most brutal winter months. Thank you so much for reading this post, and I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, be sure to share it with your friends and family so they too can be prepared for whatever nasty things Mother Nature may throw our way! Please subscribe to email updates to the right, and follow me on Twitter so you can stay up to date with thecollegecapitalist. Also, check out my resources tab for a list of all of the apps and financial services I use to make hundreds in passive income every year!