Winter brings with it a number of poor weather conditions that decrease the handling of your car, reduce visibility, and generally make collisions more likely. However, if you properly prepare your vehicle for the winter months, you can help mitigate such risks. Winterizing your car is a fairly simple process that can keep you safe once the snow falls.
You should ensure that your coolant system is properly topped up before the freezing weather hits. Make sure that you have a mixture of half antifreeze and half water, as this will prevent water from freezing in your car's radiator and cooling systems, which can cause pipes to burst.
Cold air is denser than warm air is, which means that in the winter months your tires' air pressure can fall. When this happens, your tires have a harder time holding their shape, and will have greater contact with the road, reducing the responsiveness of your steering and making skidding more likely. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated to ensure that you have safe traction in the snow.
You should double check your windshield wipers to see if they are in good working order. They should have complete contact with the windshield in order to clear away snow during the winter. If they are bent, broken, or worn at all, you should replace them to protect your visibility. Additionally, you should top up your wiper fluid so that you can clean off your windshield while driving in poor weather conditions.
In the winter, your engine oil becomes thicker, which means that it has a harder time circulating through your engine. To combat this, you can have the oil drained from your engine and replace it with a lower viscosity. You should check your owner's manual to see if there is a recommended winter oil for your vehicle, but if there isn't, you should check with a mechanic (such as one from Brach's Auto Center Inc.) to see which oil works best for your car in the winter months.
While you can do a number of things to ensure that your car is ready to tackle the snowy months, you should also make sure that if the worst does happen, and you have a collision and are stranded in the middle of nowhere, you have an emergency kit. This should be stocked with food, water, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, batteries, a flashlight, and anything else you think may be necessary.