Save Time and Money By Preparing Your Car for Winter

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Each and every year of my brief 26 year life, I spend the holidays in New Jersey.  My entire family lives just a stones throw from each other and before you go thinking its just a few people, you should know that my Uncle Joe is working on his 9th kid this fall.  All in all I have a few handfuls of aunts and uncles, a couple dozen first cousins (of which I am the oldest) and somehow they all fit into Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas Eve.  And this is just on my mother’s side!

Anyway, living in Miami for the other 51 weeks of the year, I forget just how cold and inconvenient a winter can be sometimes.  When in the south, I miss the days of cold weather and snow because growing up, I remember them to be just full of fun.  School would be closed and you go go outside and hit unsuspecting people with snow balls all day long.  Then you take the snow tube and slide down the big hills and after you come home, you get hot chocolate and sit next to the fire.  Ahhh good times.

As an adult, snow represents something completely opposite, which is a great big pain in the ass.  Most offices won’t close for snow, so you either have to take an unpaid day off or trek it through the miserable streets to get there.  Just to get out of your driveway, you need to spend hours shoveling snow or spend a good amount of money on a snow blower that doesn’t work half the time and don’t get me started on the heating bill.  All in all, wintry weather can be extremely expensive, especially if you’re unprepared.

One way to make sure that you are prepared is by having your vehicle primed to handle snow and ice during the winter.  Here are a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your automobile during the cold weather.

1. Check Your Wiper A LOT – If you’ve ever driven in the snow, you know how important wiper fluid can be.  I was recently stuck in Long Island during a snow storm and driving home, I had to stick my head out the window just to see.  I learned that the wiper fluid in the car was frozen and when snow sticks to your windshield, it freezes making it impossible to see in just seconds.  Before leaving your home, make sure you have ample amounts of wiper fluid and more importantly, make sure it’s still fluid.

2. Always Carry a Spare Tire - This seems like something you should always practice but during the winter, this counts as double important.  Getting stranded on the side of the road in the summer can be an inconvenience, but getting stranded in the winter can be a disaster.  Emergency assistance isn’t as available in the snow or ice as it is normally so you could be stuck for quite a while.  Make sure to learn how to change a tire, then go out and buy one for a spare.

3. Find an Ice Scraper that Doesn’t Scratch Your Car – Sometimes, you find yourself working hard just to get the ice off of your car and if you use an ice scraper, make sure the only think it’s scrapes is ice!  Too often, scrapers can scratch your windshield and scrape the paint right off your car so be careful and use with caution.

4. Wash Your Car As Often As You Can – Anyone that lives up north knows what salt can do to an automobile.  The stuff that they spread on the streets so they won’t ice up can also corrode your car or truck, slowing eating it’s way through your entire vehicle.  Make sure that you wash your car often during the winter to rid yourself of any salt that could be stuck on your automobile.  Also remember never to drive behind a salt truck, because not only will that kill your paint, you can also expect a few nicks and dings every piece of glass your car has!

5. Buy a Car Cover and Use It - If you see a winter storm approaching, consider the purchase of a car cover and make sure to use it before the snow begins.  Keeping your car snow free can allow you to avoid a few of the above hassles and the long term affect of keeping ice and snow off of your automobile should add life.  To go the extra mile, you can use the car cover during rain storms too!

Simple steps indeed, but any one step overlooked could cost you time and a ton of money.  Not to mention the safety involved when driving in difficult conditions.  For those who have never experienced a true winter before, be very very cautious while driving.  Navigating through snow and ice is extremely dangerous and should be avoided if possible.  Safe driving.

Published or Updated: January 19, 2011

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