While we might slip up on our New Year's resolutions at times, this year you can resolve to take better care of your car all year. Firestone Complete Auto Care offers the following tips for winter vehicle maintenance to get you started.
Winter only magnifies existing problems like pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. Make sure your vehicle is mechanically sound before the temperature dips and the streets get icy. Make certain the engine is in peak condition. Also check the cooling system. Coolant should be replaced per the vehicle manufacturer's maintenance schedule.
Be on schedule
Have your motor oil changed regularly. Use the specified weight and grade of oil recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Also make sure to check that the heating/defrosting system is working properly.
Prepare for potential winter emergencies by using your trunk as a storage place for emergency items. Important items to have on hand include: a properly inflated spare tire, ice scraper, windshield de-icer, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, cell phone car charger and non-perishable snacks.
Be on the defensive
Take a defensive position against winter driving conditions, and take care of your tires. Once it gets cold, tire tread and pressure should be checked weekly. A tire's PSI measurement can drop one pound for every 10-degree drop in temperature. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider installing winter tires, which are specially designed to grip slick roads.
Use common sense during adverse road conditions. Reduce your driving speed, and increase your following distance in hazardous winter weather. If you get stuck in the snow, don't spin your tires -- this can overheat them and possibly cause damage. Use sand, gravel, kitty litter, an asphalt shingle or other gritty items to help your tires gain traction when stuck.