As the weather gets colder in Arkansas and you pull your winter clothes out of the back of your closet, it is important to remember that your vehicle needs some preparation also! A simple seasonal checkup will help you drive worry-free as the weather changes. You can complete a lot of this checklist yourself, and a few of the items should be performed by an experienced mechanic.
Vehicle Winterization Checklist
- Battery Testing – Make sure to have your battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. Your vehicle needs a fully charged battery to start the engine in cold weather.
- Battery Cable & Terminal Condition – The reactions required to create power in a car battery actually slow down in very cold temperatures. To avoid any issues with your vehicle starting on a cold morning check on the condition of your battery cables and terminals. The connections should be secure and clear of corrosion and cracks. If you do see corrosion on the terminals and posts it should be removed.
- Visually Inspect Drive Belts – Look for cracks or fraying, both on the top and on the underside.
- Tire Type & Tread – Arkansas does not have extreme winter weather conditions, but it can get icy and snowy. All-season tires work well in areas like Arkansas, as long as the tread is in good condition. Your tires should have at least 5/32-inches of tread for best winter traction. If it has any less than that they should likely be replaced. Visually inspect your tires and tread. If you see uneven wear on the tires there could be an issue with the alignment, suspension, or balance and should be addressed to prevent further damage to the tires.
- Use a penny to measure your tread, place it into a tread groove with Lincoln’s head pointing at the ground. If none of Lincoln’s head is covered, you need to replace your tires.
- Flip the penny over so the Lincoln Memorial is facing down, if any part of the building is covered, your tires are in good shape.
- Tire Pressure – Most people neglect to check their tire pressure, but it is especially important during the winter months. With the drop in temperature the air pressure in the tires changes, (about 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit) so you want to make sure you keep your tires at the recommended pressure level. The typical recommendation is 30-35 PSI. You can find the proper level on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.
- Air Filter – Make sure your air filter is not clogged up by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If you can see light through most of the filter, it is still clean enough to work. If most of the light is blocked then your filter is not working properly and needs to be replaced.
- Coolant Levels – This is another easy one, just make sure you check on your coolant level when the engine is cold (check it first thing in the morning before the engine has been turned on). If the coolant is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant mixed with water.
- Vehicle Lights – Check to make sure your headlines, taillights, hazards, turn signals, brake lights, and backup lights all work. If any bulbs are burnt out make sure to replace them.
- Wiper Blades – Make sure your blades completely clear the glass with each swipe. If you notice any spots replace the blades. Most blades are only good for 6-months to a year, so chances are you need new ones.
- Wiper Fluid – Don’t get stuck in bad weather driving with poor visibility. Check the washer fluid and refill the reservoir if needed with freeze-resistant wiper fluid.
- Brakes – Have your brakes inspected by a certified mechanic.
- Change Your Oil – Cold weather thickens oil and makes it harder to cycle through the engine. Make sure you have clean, fresh oil to keep your engine running smoothly.
- Emergency Kit – Be ready for anything by adding a few basics to your car like blankets, flairs, a first aid kit, flashlight, shovel, and food.
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