Changes You May Notice in Your Car in the Winter
As the weather changes, so will your car. Take note of the following winter changes in your car.
Check Your Tires
When the outside temperature drops, your tire inflation pressure may also drop. Make sure your tires are filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure, which you can find in your owner’s manual and on a label on the driver’s side door frame. It's best to check your vehicle's tires when they’re cold, when they haven't been driven for at least three hours.
Check each tire’s age. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing tires every six years regardless of use.
Also check the tread and sidewalls for any cuts, punctures, bulges, scrapes, cracks, or bumps. The tread should be at least 2/32 of an inch or greater on all tires. Also check your spare tire.
In the winter, heavy coats can interfere with the proper harness fit on a child in a car seat. When your child is settled in a car seat, place blankets or coats around your child after the harness is snug and secure. Make sure car seats and booster seats are properly installed and all children riding in your vehicle are in the right seat for their age and size.
In cold weather, gasoline and diesel engines take more battery power to start, and electric and hybrid-electric vehicles’ driving range can be reduced. It's a good idea to have a mechanic check your battery, charging system, belts, and for any other needed repairs or replacements, especially if you are planning a road trip in the winter.
Know whether your vehicle has an antilock brake system and learn how to use it properly. Antilock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel your wheels starting to lock up.
Snow slush can dirty your floor mats and car. Consider switching out your usual floor mats with rubbery mats which are easier to clean. Use floor mats that are the correct size and fit for your vehicle and make sure they are properly installed, or they could interfere with the driver's use of the accelerator or brake pedal, which could increase your risk of a crash. Use retention clips to secure all mats.
Check the NHTSA site for more in-depth information on driver safety and changes in your vehicle in winter conditions.
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