Winter Driving Tips

Posted by & filed under White Bear Lake Auto Repair.

Winter seems to hit the Gopher State in an instant. All of a sudden, we go from having leaves on the ground to mountains of snow all around us.

As such, being able to navigate treacherous wintry conditions is extremely important for Minnesota drivers. Here are a few tips on how to prepare your car for the impending invasion from Old Man Winter:

Tire Pressure
A quick drop in the temperature can affect how much air you have in your tires. When you have a minute, grab a pressure gage and check all four of your tires to make sure they’re filled to the recommended PSI setting. By keeping your tires properly inflated, you’ll enjoy better fuel efficiency and also reduce the chances of getting a flat.

Proper tire tread is extra important in the winter.

Tire Tread
Since you’re already checking your tires’ pressure, you might as well take a look at their tread too. Generally, a height of 1/16 of an inch is the minimum acceptable level for a tire’s tread but when you’re dealing with less-than-ideal conditions, you’ll definitely want a little bit more just to be safe. When you add snow and (possibly freezing) rain to the equation, the minimum height you’ll want for your tires’ tread is 2/16 of an inch. You should also check to make sure there are no bulges or bald spots on your tires as these can lead to a loss of control when you’re driving on slippery roads.

Windshield Wipers
Worn or tattered windshield wipers are extremely dangerous. Limited visibility in bad weather put you and your passengers (as well as other cars on the road) at risk and having functional windshield wipers is an easy way to help make sure you can see what’s around you while driving. It’s recommended that you clean your windshield regularly and check your wipers as often as possible. If your wipers miss a spot when you activate the spray function or if they’re visibly ragged, it’s time to invest in a new set.

Defroster/Heater
When it comes to ensuring safe winter driving your defroster is definitely a critical component. There’s nothing scarier than your windshield fogging up quickly and not being able to see the road. Remember to test your defroster regularly – the air flow needs to be strong in order for the system to improve your visibility as quickly as possible when called upon.

Battery Condition
Chilly weather is tough on car batteries, especially if they’re a little older. As we all know all too well, it sometimes takes an extra beat for your engine to start on colder mornings. If this is happening with greater frequency than normal during the fall, you definitely want to check your battery’s voltage output by using a multimeter. This can be done by a technician at an auto repair shop if you don’t have a multimeter at your disposal. Being able to hold a charge in all weather conditions is vital to safe driving, especially here in Minnesota.

Brakes
Fall and winter are the most challenging seasons for your brakes, hands down. Before driving conditions get too tough and the roads turn into skating rinks, you’ll definitely want to know that your brakes are functioning at as high a level as possible. Since they’re used every time you drive, brakes wear down quicker than you might think so be sure to have them inspected regularly. If they’re making a noise of any kind – grinding or squeaking – they’re definitely in need of technical attention ASAP.

Cooling System
Before the temperature drops too much, be sure to flush your coolant/antifreeze as this is a critical component in maintaining a safe temperature in your engine. Autumn is typically the best time to have a flush performed.

Winter Tools
It’s never a good feeling to realize that your ice scraper is MIA right after a surprise snowstorm hits. We’ve all cleared snow with our mittens and used a credit card to scrape away a thin layer of ice from our windshield before but annoying measures such as these can be avoided simply by remembering to stock your vehicle with the necessary winter tools in October. In addition to your ice scraper, be sure to throw blankets, a flashlight, salt/sand, water, etc. into your trunk just in case you need them this winter.

Cat litter provides traction on slick winter roads

As we head towards winter just remember to pay attention to your car and if anything seems out of the ordinary you should address it sooner rather than later as seemingly small problems can escalate into major headaches this time of year. Be sure to stay up-to-date with your maintenance/tune-up schedule and if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call at 651.426.0462 or click HERE to schedule an appointment for your vehicle!

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