First Frosts Are Here: Prepare Your Car for Winter

winter care care tips

Cooler temperatures have officially arrived, and they’re only going to get colder. While we love sweater weather and curling up under blankets as much as the next person, we don’t love what the cold weather does to our cars. We’ve all been there: you leave your house in a rush in the morning only to find that your car is crusted over with a thin layer of ice! That’s why we’ve created this preparing-your-car-for-winter checklist—to make sure you’re not caught with your snow pants down. The first frosts of the year have already started rolling in, so let’s go through these winter car care basics.

Tune It Up

Cold weather can exacerbate any existing mechanical issues your car may be experiencing, so taking it to the shop before the weather gets even colder can help you nip those problems in the bud. They can help you check off a lot of other items on this list if you don’t happen to be car-savvy. And if it’s just a little too cold to be convinced to leave the house, Elephant customers can receive a discount for at-home mechanic services from YourMechanic.

Check Your Fluids

What would we do in cold weather without antifreeze? It keeps your engine from freezing, , so it’s important to check the levels before things start to get super chilly. You can also change to a winter windshield wiper fluid, which is specifically designed to avoid freezing on your windshield and can actually help loosen ice and frost that’s already formed.

Some other fluids to take a look at (or ask your mechanic to make sure they check) are your motor oil, your coolant system, and maybe even your brake fluid. Brake fluid will usually not need to be topped off, but properly working brakes are crucial in the winter to avoid any sliding on icy roads or slowing down in snowy conditions, so it never hurts to check.

Snag Yourself an Ice Scraper

If you don’t have time to warm up your car before jetting off in the morning, sitting and waiting for the defrost to clear your windshield is probably out of the question.  A good ice scraper is a crucial winter car care item to have on hand to clear any frost or ice that has accumulated overnight; you can’t drive if you can’t see, after all! Keep it on the floor under your seats or in the trunk for easy access.

Get a Windshield Cover

An even better step than winter wiper fluid or an ice scraper is purchasing a cover for your windshield. Simply attach it to your car once you’re home for the night, then remove it (and any frost or ice) in the morning for a crystal-clear windshield. Just don’t forget to shake it off before throwing it in the car or things might get a little soggy!

Test Your Tires

It might be obvious to most, but we’ll say it anyway: your tires are crucial to keeping you safe on the road, especially during winter weather conditions. Making sure they’re filled to the right PSI level is one of the easiest winter car care maintenance steps anyone can take to make driving that much safer. Cold air can affect your tire pressure by condensing the air inside and causing your tires to lose PSI, which means less traction and support on the road. However, be sure to not go too far the other way — overfilling your tires or not reducing them to the right cold weather temperature can also lead to reduced traction.

Remember to check your tire pressure regularly, and if you have a modern car with a “low air” or similar tire warning, don’t ignore it! If you don’t have your own gauge, a lot of gas station air pumps have them. Be sure to follow your vehicles guidelines properly when refilling (check the sticker with your VIN number on it for correct PSI in cold weather).

Make a Cold Weather Emergency Kit

Being in an accident or becoming stranded are bad enough situations on their own, but they can be even more miserable if they happen in the cold. Pack yourself an emergency kit that stays in your car so you’re prepared in the event of a cold-weather accident: extra blankets, gloves, socks, and matches are all great items to have in your trunk if the worst should happen.

Cold weather can be tough on you and your car. But by taking steps to prepare for it, and by practicing continued maintenance and upkeep on your vehicle, you can make sure that you’re more than ready when the first frost hits your area. To make sure you and your car are covered beyond the mechanics, get a quote with us today at

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