According to AAA Washington, there are 10 simple steps every car owner should take in order to be ready for winter.
- Replace your windshield wipers. In the climate of the Northwest, motorists should replace their front and back window wiper blades every six months. After the extreme heat of this past summer, wiper blades are likely to be dried out and brittle and won’t clear the windshield adequately.
- Check your tire pressure. As the temperature drops, so will the pressure in your tires. This can make for unsafe conditions and reduces fuel efficiency.
- Prepare a winter driving kit. This should include: food, water, flashlight with fresh batteries, small snow shovel and brush, traction mats, ice scraper, booster cables, warm blanket, flares or triangle warning devices, heavy gloves, window washing solvent and first aid kit.
- Check the level of your engine oil. Top off if you’re low and have it changed based on the recommendation in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
- Clean your battery terminals. Wearing gloves and eye protection, use a solution of baking soda and water to loosen up corrosion and clean with a wire brush.
- Clean your windows and lights. Increase your safety by cleaning the windows inside and out and your headlights and taillights.
- Check your lights. Make sure none of your light bulbs have burned out, including your emergency and interior lights.
- Make sure your gas cap seals. A loose gas cap can reduce your fuel efficiency and cause a warning light to turn on. A new one can be purchased at your local auto parts store.
- Consider buying tire chains. If you don’t have all-season tires and will likely have to drive in the snow this year, it’s a good idea to purchase tire chains. Last year our extreme winter weather left many motorists stranded on the side of the road and in their driveways. Most auto parts and tire stores ran out of chains within days. Get chains early and store them in your vehicle until spring.
- Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual. This guide will tell you when maintenance should be scheduled on your vehicle and the specs of your tire pressure, tire size, engine oil, etc.
According to Jay McGrew, owner of Seattle's "Superior Auto Care," everyone should make sure their car is winterized -- and "summerized."
"Things, in general, tend to fail when you have great temperature changes," says McGrew.
His auto shop, like virtually all of them, performs a multi-point inspection to make sure your car's ready for the change.