As we get closer to the holiday season, now is a great time to check in with your car and make sure you are prepared for any big road trips you have on the calendar this winter. As we are still in the midst of a pandemic, air travel is down and more people will be packing the car to get to their holiday destination. To stay safe on the road this winter, it’s important to take steps before temperatures drop and the cold rain, sleet, and snow cause road hazards.
We asked our team what their top tips were for car owners that want to be totally prepared for anything that comes their way this season, and here’s what they said:
1. Check Your Tire Tread Depth
Tires: Where the Rubber (Literally) Meets the Road
We’re not burying the lede with this one – tire maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to get your car ready for the road. First up, check your tires tread depth. Tread depth is “the vertical distance measurement from the top of the tire’s rubber to the bottom of the tire’s deepest grooves” – tread is not only the part of the tire that helps your car grip the road effectively so you are less likely to slide or hydroplane in wet weather, it also helps with turning, accelerating, braking, and even has an impact on fuel economy (how efficient your car is at using fuel).
To measure tread depth, try the quarter test. Using a quarter, place George Washington’s head downward into the grooves of the tire. If the top of his head is just flush with the top of the tread, it’s time for new tires soon. For a more exact measurement, many auto parts stores sell tread measurement tools so you can get a more exact reading on how your tires are doing. Here’s a handy dandy chart from Tire America on each measurement and what it means for your maintenance schedule:
- 6/32″ or higher: Your tread depth is sufficient.
- 5/32″: If snow-covered roads are a concern, you should consider replacing your tires.
- 4/32″: If you frequently drive on wet roads, consider replacing your tires.
- 3/32″: It’s time to start shopping for new tires. They are close to being worn out.
- 2/32″ or lower: Your tires are legally bald, and it’s time to replace them.
2. Replace Your Windshield Wipers If Overdue
Windshield Wipers: You Can’t Drive if You Can’t See!
Windshield wipers are a major key to safe driving, especially in the fall and winter time. By this point in the year, you’ve likely accumulated a mess of dirt, debris and bugs on your windshield. If you haven’t replaced the wipers yet this year, you’re overdue – wiper blades should be replaced twice a year to operate the way they should. Over time, they wear down and become less effective at clearing your windshield and can even actually *decrease* visibility as they wear down, make less contact
3. Check ALL Car Lights
Lights, Camera, ACTION!
Your car has lots of lights, all for different purposes and all important to helping you drive safely. As we lose sunlight hours and more driving is done in the dark, it’s important to make sure your lights are working (for your safety, but also so you don’t get a ticket!)
Headlights, tail lights, fog lights, turn signals, oh my!
Your car has a lot of lights, but luckily they are all quite simple to check. When the sun is not out, park your car in a safe place, turn on each of your lights and walk around your car to physically check and make sure each light is bright and working properly. If one light of a pair is dimmer than the other, it’s best to replace both at the same time because it’s likely the other bulb will go out soon too.
4. A Clean Car is a Happy Car
Picture this: it’s late November, the first frost has come and gone and temperatures are dipping into the 20s and 30s at their lows. You wake up early to pack the car for a road trip and realize your car is a mess- clutter, dirt, grease, we all have it. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a clean car to pack without having to brave the chill?
Cleaning your car proactively before it gets cold is more of a convenience thing than a pure safety measure, but you’ll be glad you did it before the weather truly turns.
A quick clutter clean up and light vacuum/spray will do the trick, but it can’t hurt to get a professional detail if you want to get a wax to protect the outside of your car from the elements as well.
At CarCare to Go, we believe in demystifying car maintenance and service and empowering car owners with knowledge about their car.
While It’s important to understand the basics of car ownership and service, if you’re like us you have busy lives and don’t always have time to take these additional steps outlined above.
That’s why we’re here and we would love to get your car “road trip ready” for you- our technicians perform a multi-point inspection when you come in for any service that accounts for everything on this list and more.