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5 ways to prepare your car for winter

Oct 12, 2019 01:56PM ● By Editor
By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer - Posted: October 12, 2019

The winter season can be detrimental for cars, which is why it's important drivers prepare well in advance of when the harshest conditions arrive. 

Ed Gliss, a test driver and technical expert for Michelin, said the best time for car owners to begin preparing vehicles for cold weather is in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. 

"Temperatures are dropping; you're starting to get a little bit of frost overnight. That's a good reminder to start winterizing your vehicle," he said.

Whether you're on the highway or warming up the car in the driveway, the winter season can cause trouble in a variety of ways. 

Here are five ways to make sure your car is ready to withstand cold weather for a safe driving experience.

Monitor tire pressure

Gliss said it's important to check your tire pressure once a month, especially during the winter, since a tire's pressure can drop as the air becomes colder. 

"An under-inflated tire underperforms and does not wear good for the consumer," he said. 

Tire pressure is measured by pounds per square inch (PSI). If uncertain about what level of PSI your tire should be, the proper inflation level can typically be found inside the driver's door jam. 

In addition, there are specific styles of tires that can help navigate wintry weather better than others. A good rule of thumb is to at least have an all-season tire when driving in conditions below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For those living in regions where temperatures may routinely approach zero, Gliss said it's wise to look into winter tires, which are built for superior traction and handling on snowy or icy roads.

car cold weather winter

Booster cables (jarih/iStock/Thinkstock) 

Have your battery tested

Battery capacity decreases significantly in cold weather, so it's important to have a mechanic examine it to ensure it's at peak performance, according to Michelin. 

"It becomes increasingly important to have a well-performing battery in those cooler temperatures. It's just harder on the cells and it robs their battery capacity," Gliss said.

Parking a car in a garage, out of the freezing cold, is another way to protect the battery. Having jumper cables handy is also important, not only if your car breaks down, but also in case you come across another motorist in need of a jumpstart.

Watch a video on how to prepare your car for winter

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