Weathering the Winter in Your Car
We depend on our cars to do a lot of extra heavy lifting during the winter. From holiday preparations, to following our favorite high school sports teams around, to shuffling the family off to celebrations, and--oh yeah--going to that 9-to-5, our lives put an extra burden on our cars this time of year. And, if you just so happen to live in a four season state like Wisconsin, the winters can get pretty brutal, causing damage to our cars if we're not prepared.
5 Tips for Winter Car Care
Below, we've compiled some tips to keep you on the road, come wind, come snow, or rain, or sleet, or hail, or...
- Penny Test Your Tires: Unlike some addages, the penny test still holds up after all these years. Simply grab a penny, and place it in between the grooves of one of your tires (assuming you regularly have them balanced and rotated, they should be in similar shape). If a portion of Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, you have at least 2/32" of tread remaining. Anything less than this, and your tires are considered (in most states) to be legally worn out. In snow-accumulating states, the necessary tread is 6/32". Need tires? Let us know.
- Go get yourself some "W" engine oil. No, not George W. Bush. In this instance, the W signals that your oil is formulated for wintertime use. Common winter-ready mixes are 10W-30, 5W-20, and 5W-30.
- Keep a window scraper handy. In a pinch, a credit card or hard plastic edge will work, but nothing beats a good ol' scraper. Stash it under your driver's seat, or inside your glove box. You'll thank yourself for being a genius when that first real big storm hits, and you're not at home.
- Don't idle your car forever. Yeah, we like jumping into a toasty car in the middle of January just as much as the next guy. But not all vehicles are well equipped to handle excessive idling, and letting your car heat up for too long is a strain on your spark plugs.
- Ease up on those brakes. Slamming on your breaks in hazardous weather conditions can be even worse than during other times of the year, as ice, snow, and other debris can cause you to spin out of control and into oncoming traffic. Instead, if you find yourself needing to avoid an accident, gently tap your breaks while steering in the direction you're spinning.