There's probably no worse or more dangerous time of the year to drive than in winter. You can avoid many car-related cold weather issues by keeping your vehicle well-maintained and having some basic winter service performed before the temperatures truly plunge. The colder your climate, the more important this winter safety maintenance becomes:

Basic Winter Maintenance

Have your annual pre-winter car maintenance performed in fall, before winter actually sets in. You can check to make sure your heater and defroster are working. Tell your mechanic and have them fixed if there are issues. The only thing worse than getting stuck in sub-freezing weather in your car is getting stuck in a vehicle with no heat. Other basic winter vehicle maintenance includes:

  • servicing the radiator system
  • antifreeze level checking
  • putting a wintertime mix in the windshield wiper fluid
  • wiper blade checking and replacement, if necessary
  • checking that all tires are correctly filled, and replacing worn tires
  • ensuring all fluids are at proper levels using winter weight oil in the engine, usually 5W-30.

A Thorough Brake Inspection

Always have the mechanic thoroughly inspect your brakes during winter maintenance. The condition of your brakes any time of the year can literally be a matter of life or death, but winter brings special considerations. Your car is less likely to skid on any icy or snowy road if all four of the wheels brake evenly.


Slowing down, in general, will also provide you with more miles-per-gallon. Driving on a highway at 75 miles-per-hour will use two percent more fuel than it would if you were cruising at 55 miles-per-hour.

Leaks Can Kill

Two primary areas of your automobile should be checked for leaks. The first is the exhaust system. A carbon monoxide leak from the exhaust system could kill everyone in a closed car, as this odorless and deadly gas builds up rapidly. Also, check for leaks in any hoses carrying antifreeze.

Keep the Gas Gauge on F

Keep your gas tank full, topping it off regularly. That not only ensures you won't run out of gas in the middle of nowhere on a freezing night, but a full tank helps stop ice forming in the tank or its fuel lines.

Special Winter Emergency Kit

You may already have a general emergency kit in your car, but you need some additional materials in case of a winter breakdown. Winter necessities include blankets, warm jackets or coats, gloves, hats and thermal underwear. You'll also need an alternative heat source for a worst-case scenario, such as a multiple wick candle can heater.

Contact a company that offers brake machining and other maintenance for more information and assistance.