Winter roads, especially in New Hampshire, can be dangerous to drive on. Learn how to prepare your car or truck with winter car care here.
Even though it's only fall and the leaves are finally hitting peak, most people from New Hampshire are more concerned with what's coming. Whether you love winter or hate it, we all feel the same way about driving in it. That's because accidents are 24% more likely in snow than in any other storm.
That's far from the only way that the winter harms our cars but don't worry. There's a lot we can do to prevent it. Let's talk about winter car care before the season picks up.
Winter Car Care Preparation
Now that winter is quickly approaching, it's time to take action. Proper winter car maintenance starts with the right preparation, and it will only take you a trip to your mechanic and auto store to check everything off on this list.
Your coolant levels need to be up to their maximum level before the winter. Coolant is also known as anti-freeze, and it not only prevents your heater from overheating but it also prevents it from freezing up during the winter.
Buy a bottle of anti-freeze, and check the label to see if it says "50/50" or "pre-mixed" on the label. If so, there will be no need to add water to it.
However, if it doesn't say that, read the instructions. Typically, you will need to mix 50% coolant and 50% water before putting it in your coolant reservoir.
Once it's mixed, find the reservoir. You can find this in your owner's manual, but it will be located under your hood and you will see a translucent container with a pink liquid in it. There will be minimum and maximum fill indicators on the side of this reservoir. Fill it to the maximum line to top it off.
That's simply for topping off your coolant. You should go to a mechanic and have the system bled to change your coolant every 60,000 miles or so depending on the vehicle. This is one of the most common car maintenance mistakes that people make, so change your coolant when you can.
As winter approaches, the air gets colder, which means that air pressure gets lower. That means that now is a great time to start checking your tire pressure and make sure they are appropriately filled, which is not only important for safety on icy roads but also for saving you at the gas pump!
Now is also a great time to check the tread depth on your tires. Bald tires are an absolute no-go in the snow. However, there is an even better alternative.
If you live in New England, you need a good pair of snow tires. Snow tires are made of specialized rubber that grips onto ice better than regular tires, and they can save your life.
Buying a good pair of snow tires and storing them in your garage during the summer is a great idea. You can have a mechanic throw them on in November and take them off in April, allowing you to keep them for years at a time, assuming you don't drive too much.
This is a good long-term investment that spreads out the wear on your summer and winter tires, meaning you won't have to replace either set nearly as often. All-season tires are an acceptable alternative, but nothing beats snow tires.
November is also a good time to add tire chains if you use them, which are legal in the state of New Hampshire, but if you cross state lines regularly, look into local regulations. Some areas will even require the use of tire chains.
Check Your Heat
October is a great time to make sure that your heat is working. We know that in New Hampshire, we can easily expect a blistering cold day to come out of nowhere this time of year, so it's best to be prepared for it.
Even if it's 60 degrees out, turn your heat on to make sure that it's working properly, that there are no concerning smells or noises, and that it is blowing a sufficient amount of heat.
If it seems like something is off, or if the vents are making concerning noises or smells, have a mechanic check it out so you don't have to withstand your first winter days without heat.
Life expectancy of a car battery is roughly 5 years, however your battery is most likely to die in colder temperatures. If your battery has been going for around a year or more, it's a good time to have it tested. Many auto stores will replace your battery for free when you purchase a new one.
Check your wipers and make sure that they are in good enough shape. Wipers are very cheap and easy to replace yourself so if you haven't done it in a while, just Google your make and model + "wiper blade size", then stop at your local auto shop and snap them on. Many auto stores offer free installation, but it is very easy to do yourself.
Develop The Right Habits
Now is a great time to start keeping your tank filled up at least a quarter of the way at all times, and preferably halfway. This will prevent your gasoline from freezing over and harming your engine.
It's also a great time to start paying closer attention to signs on the road, your driving habits, and what other drivers are doing. Accidents always increase during the snow, so make sure that you are prepared. If you have teenagers, do your best to teach them how to drive in the snow and prepare them for the challenges ahead.
Start keeping your car in the garage or under your carport, put your wiper blades up before a snowstorm, and drive slowly in the snow!
Be Safe This Winter
Now that you know the proper steps to prepare for winter car care, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery that New Hampshire has to offer without having to worry about car issues. Stay safe on the roads and don't forget to schedule services to prepare for the winter!