With winter basically here, the time to make sure your car is ready for the cold season has arrived. If you haven't already, it's time to inspect a few key parts of your car to ensure they can survive driving in harsh winter conditions. The following list will help.
Tires are the main key to safe winter driving on slick roads. Check that each tire still has deep tread and that there are no signs of uneven wear or tread damage. The tires also should not have any cuts into the sidewalls or bulges. This type of damage is usually the result of hitting a curb, and it can lead to a blow out if not fixed. In areas with extreme ice, consider upgrading to snow tires.
#2: Hoses and belts
Cold, dry air can lead to a hose or belt on its last legs to finally give out and crack. The two most common ones to go on modern cars are the radiator hose and the drive belt (sometimes still referred to as the fan belt). You can usually see the radiator hose arching off the radiator – it should be sealed well at both ends and not show any signs of cracking. You may not be able to see the drive belt, but if it is squealing under the hood it needs to be replaced.
#3: Engine fluids
Your oil, transmission, and brake fluid definitely should be checked so you don't end up broken down on the side of an icy road. Any low or dirty fluid needs to be topped off or replaced. Don't forget about your windshield wiper fluid, either. Switch it out to a winter blend that won't freeze.
#4: Your windshield
A small chip or crack in the windshield can become a major problem come winter. This is because the temperature variances between the inside and the outside of the car cause the cracks to get larger. If the damage is smaller than a half-dollar coin, you can like have it filled and repaired without the need for a full window replacement. Larger cracks require a replacement. This is also a good time to make sure all the window seals are sealing properly and replace any that are not. Visit a local auto glass replacement service for price estimates and help with repairs.
#5: Lights and signals
Shorter days means driving more at night. Take the time to check all of your headlights, tail lights, and turn signals to make sure they are working as they should, and replace any burnt out bulbs. It's harder to see at night, so you want to make sure you are at peak visibility.