It’s never to early to gear up for winter, especially if you live in the great state of Wisconsin where winter has a notorious reputation for being especially frosty and frigid. Fox 6’s Brian Kramp recently stopped by Firestone Complete Auto Care in Wauwatosa, WI for expert winter car care tips from the pros. Before you experience any cold weather car problems, find out what you should pay attention to under the hood and around the car’s exterior, plus what to keep in the trunk!
Under the Hood
Your first priority going into winter, says Irving, one of Firestone Complete Auto Care’s Wauwatosa area managers, is to have your battery checked. In the winter, you can end up with a dead battery at the chilliest and most inconvenient times. If your battery happens to die before you can get it tested or replaced, you can take the following steps to charge it, he says:
How to Charge a Dead Battery
- First, connect “red to dead.” Connect the red end of the jumper cable to the positive node on the dead battery.
- Next, connect the other red end to the positive node on the working battery.
- While you’re still at the working battery, connect the black end of the jumper cable to the battery’s negative node.
- Now, back to the dead battery. Connect the remaining black end of the cable to any metal grounding spot on the vehicle’s body, like the grill.
Check out Jump Starting a Car and Other Battery Tips for more detailed information, and if you don’t have time to swing by your local Firestone Complete Auto Care for a free battery test, use our Virtual Battery Tester for an instant estimate of your battery’s remaining life!
The Car’s Exterior
Now that you know one of the most important things to pay attention to under the hood, it’s time to head out to the exterior of the car. When snow and debris start really kicking up and making road conditions tricky, there are two things you should pay attention to: your windshield wipers and tires.
Pull up your windshield wipers and examine the rubber blades. Look for cracks, tears, or anywhere rubber may have degraded and simply fallen off.
“Make sure they’re clean and complete,” says Irving, “with no missing chunks.” While there’s no specific timeframe for getting your wipers replaced, rubber inevitably degrades. When you start to notice streaks on your windshield or the quality of your wipers deteriorating, it’s a good time to replace them.
Besides checking your tire tread depth (which you can do with a penny), you want to make sure that your tire pressure is where it should be, notes Irving. Most manufacturers will mark the recommended tire pressure on the inside of the driver’s side door panel, which is the guideline you should always follow.
“Don’t follow what the tire says because this will tell you max pressure,” he adds. If you fill to max pressure, it will be a pretty uncomfortable ride and this isn’t what’s best for your vehicle.
In The Trunk
Ok, so there’s no winter car maintenance to be done in your trunk, but this is where you should keep some key items in case your car breaks down. Irving and his team of technicians recommend keeping these essentials in your trunk, just in case!
An emergency roadside kit that includes jumper cables, reflective triangles, a flashlight, bungee cords, etc. (Hint: These kits make great holiday gifts too!)
- A blanket or two
- A pair of warm, winter gloves
- A pillow
- Bottled water
- Snacks that won’t spoil, like Goldfish
- A small bag of cat litter
Pro Tip: Why kitty litter instead of sand? Kitty litter may actually provide you with much better traction than sand, depending on the size of the granules.
Take the advice of one of Firestone Complete Auto Care’s trusted technicians and schedule your appointment online for a fast and free battery check, tire evaluation, free fluid top-off, and more at your local Firestone Complete Auto Care and get your car geared up for winter!