With the new year comes the chance to take a step back, self-assess, and set goals for the year ahead. And even if your New Year’s resolutions are already a distant memory, here’s one you can add to your list: getting your car in tip-top shape. Here’s a quick checklist to help you and your vehicle start the year off right—and it doesn’t even require a gym membership.
1. Start fresh with a clean car
Ensure your car is ready to take on winter weather by starting with a clean slate. Clean off any dirt or grime that’s built up on the exterior and undercarriage over the past few months. If you’re dealing with snow, ice, and road salt this time of year, it’s good to maintain a clean exterior to protect the paint and prevent rust. And if you live somewhere warm enough—or get a nice, sunny day—you can save some money and clean your car yourself.
2. Check your tires
Determine whether your tire tread is deep enough. Pick up a tire tread depth gauge at your local auto parts store, or insert a penny with Lincoln’s head down into your tire tread. If you can still see the top of his head, it’s time for new tires—in fact, many states require tires to be replaced once the tread reaches 2/32”. If your tires are more than half-worn—approximately 4/32”—you may want to start looking for replacements.
While you’re assessing your tires, check the tire pressure. This is especially important during the winter since colder weather can cause your tires to lose pressure more quickly. Low tire pressure can lead to uneven tire wear and worse—a blowout—so it’s important to be proactive.
3. Restock your emergency kit
It’s crucial to keep an emergency kit in your car in case you’re involved in an accident and you need something you don’t normally carry with you. This is especially true during the colder times of the year—you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road without essential items to keep you safe. At the very least, we recommend keeping the following in your car:
- A blanket
- A few bottles of water
- A few granola bars or other energizing snacks
- A properly inflated spare tire, and tire changing kit
- Jumper cables
Review your emergency kit and make sure you’re ready with our list of essential items you should keep in your car.
4. Be prepared for cold weather
For many of us, the new year brings the coldest weather of the year. This quick checklist offers a few key suggestions to help ensure your vehicle is ready for the rest of winter:
- Test your battery: Batteries are more likely to die in cold temperatures, so make sure yours is in good working condition. Otherwise, you could be stuck in the cold with a dead car battery. Auto parts stores often offer free battery and charging system testing, so it’s easy to take this important step that can help make sure you won’t be stranded.
- Check your brakes: Properly working brakes are a must at any time of year, but if you live somewhere with snow and ice, you definitely don’t want to deal with a brake failure during winter. Have a licensed auto technician check your car’s braking system to help avoid potential accidents.
- Replace your wiper blades: This one is fairly simple, and you can even do it yourself. Purchase and install new wiper blades to help clear snow and ice off your windshield.
- Top off your wiper fluid: While you’re buying new wiper blades, it’s a good idea to purchase wiper fluid made for cold weather, so it won’t freeze up on your windshield and reduce your visibility.
5. Review your car insurance
Finally, make sure you’re protected with reliable car insurance this year. If you only carry the minimum insurance level required by your state, you may want to consider the additional options available to you to provide even more protection for you and your vehicle. Contact us to discuss discounts that might apply to you, such as a defensive driving discount or a multi-vehicle discount.
A flat tire is no fun, especially in the winter. Being prepared and knowing how to change a flat tire can help get you back on the road in no time.
Want to save some money by fixing your car on your own? Here are five tips to get you started.