But is your vehicle ready? Winter driving can be hard on a vehicle no matter where you live, but particularly in the mountains. Below is a basic checklist to get you and your vehicle ready for the long winter ahead:
1. Check your antifreeze. Antifreeze is an essential part of your car’s winter protection. Your car contains a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze. Make sure the level is full and the mixture is close to 50/50. Many service stations and repair centers will check this mixture free, or you can buy a tester for around $5. (You did remember to perform a radiator flush last spring, didn’t you?)
2. Get the right tires. Where we live, you need snow tires or, at minimum, a good all-weather tire if you don’t drive much out of town. And don’t assume last year’s tires are okay. Snow tires will only last you a few seasons, depending on your use. Check the tread and make sure you have at least 1/4″ tread left. And check the pressure; it often goes down in cold temperatures, so pump them up.
3. Replace windshield wipers. You’ll need a good set to through a Steamboat winter. To clear off the snow, hail, slush, etc., that falls in abundance for 6+ months, you’ll want a new, high-performing set.
4. Top off your washer fluid. You’ll also be using lots of washer fluid as you try to keep your windshield clean for safe driving. A mile stuck behind an 18-wheeler will have your windshield looking like a Desert Humvee if you’re low on washer fluid. *Tip: Don’t fill your washer fluid reservoir with anything except washer fluid, it won’t freeze!
5. Check your battery. Can’t recall when you bought a new battery? A weak one is likely to fail in the winter. Have its charge checked at a good repair shop to be sure.
6. Inspect your oil. You should have oil changes done regularly no matter the season, but it’s worth giving a reminder here.
7. See your auto repair shop. Make an appointment for an overall inspection of your brakes, engine, battery, spark plugs, etc.
8. Be prepared for emergencies. Carry enough of the following for driver and passengers: gloves, boots, blankets, a winter coat, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, a cell phone, and some non-perishable snacks.