Around this time each year, I begin to wonder… Should we drive or fly? Let me see, a thirteen hour drive or airfare for five? Road trip wins again! We all know that November 25th is historically the busiest day for Thanksgiving travel, and yet there we are with thousands of other families making the annual trek. It’s crazy, stressful, exhausting, and a wonderful American tradition that has forged family ties for generations. I love it, but don’t tell my kids; my grumpy dad reputation would be ruined!
Whether it’s an epic journey or a short jaunt, it’s important to prepare your vehicle for holiday traveling. Your car has just endured a summer’s worth of beach trips, sporting events, and taxiing everyone everywhere! For your car’s sake as well as your families, don’t risk it – winterize it! The basics will ensure safe passage through stormy weather, traffic jams, freezing temps, snow, equipment failure, and the unexpected. Most of the items on your winterizing checklist are DIY, minus a couple that I’d leave to the pros.
Battery: Have mechanic run a battery load test to make sure your battery will go the distance. In extreme cold, a fully charged battery has just half its rated amp-hour capacity.
Windshield: Change your wiper blades, fill the windshield washer reservoir with a lower freezing temperature washer fluid, and I suggest applying rain-x to your windshield for the best possible visibility.
Tires: Have your tires professionally checked if the tread depth is less than 3/16 inch. Your tire’s air pressure drops an estimated 6psi from summer to winter so properly inflate them to ensure best possible traction (see your owner’s manual). If snow is in the plan, consider swapping your tires out with snow tires for the trip.
Fluids: Have your oil and filter changed. Cold thickens your oil so a lower viscosity rated oil may be a good idea (See your owner’s manual). Check all fluids to ensure they are at the correct levels and there are no leaks. Now is also the time to check your 4WD to ensure it’s operating properly. Slippery roads, mud, or snow may call for heavy-duty traction!
Antifreeze: Your car’s radiator should contain a 50/50 antifreeze and water mix. I recommend purchasing an antifreeze tester from your local parts supply. A simple test will confirm that your car’s antifreeze is suitable for winter temperatures.
Belts & Hoses: They can weaken with cold weather. Check them for any signs of wear and tear and if in doubt, have them changed.
Emergencies: I suggest a first aid kit, tool bag with basic tools for making minor repairs, portable charger for cell phones and other accessories, warm clothing for everyone, and plenty of bottled and backup munchies.
So maybe you fly, maybe you drive… Either way, hope for the best, prepare for the worst this holiday season by completing a smart checklist before heading out. Text or call (757) 560-4252 and ask for Mike Love. I’m always happy to answer your questions and assist you in any way I can. Safe travels!