MetLife, Your Life®

Simple Tips for Life’s Unpredictable Moments

5 Changes to Make to Your Car This Winter

Keep your vehicle in top condition all season long.



Winter weather can be harsh on vehicles, so it’s important to prepare your car for the colder months. Here are five changes you can make to help your car run safely and smoothly all winter long:

  1. Oil
    Cold weather can thicken oil, causing it to be less effective and more difficult to circulate. To avoid this, use a lower-weight oil during the winter. Most manufacturers recommend multi-viscosity or 5W-30 oil. Your owner’s manual or auto mechanic can help you determine which type is best for your vehicle and climate.
  2. Tires
    If you live in an area that commonly sees snow, sleet and ice, consider swapping out your regular tires for snow tires before winter. At the very least, inspect your tires to make sure they’re in good condition. Check for uneven wear; for sufficient traction, be sure each has a tread depth of at least 4/32 inch. To check this, insert a quarter head-first into the tread and ensure that the top of Washington’s head touches the tire.
  3. Windshield Wipers
    Winter snow, salt, and grime on your windshield can lower your visibility and make you more susceptible to accidents. Get ahead by installing new winter-grade wiper blades at the beginning of the season. It’s also a good idea to replace your wiper fluid. Opt for a wash with a lower freezing temperature.
  4. Coolant
    Fill your coolant tank to the maximum level. This helps prevent your engine from overheating, and your radiator from corroding. Most models require you to mix a 50/50 solution of coolant—also called antifreeze—and distilled water. Check your owner’s manual to determine the right combination for your vehicle and how often to check the coolant level.
  5. Battery
    Low temperatures can impair the way your battery’s chemicals react to generate electricity, making your car difficult to start. Cold also can reduce your battery cables’ conductivity. Inspect your battery and cables for deficiencies such as swelling and cracks, and replace them as needed. If you haven’t replaced your battery in four years or more, you may consider investing in a new one before winter arrives.

Reminder: Turn on your air conditioner once a month during the winter to prevent the seals from cracking and drying.

For more tips on winter driving, check out these MetLife, Your Life links:

Emergency: How to Deal with Black Ice on the Road

Emergency: How to Get Your Car Out of a Snowbank

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