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Is your car ready for winter? Five important things to do right now.

red shoes

Maybe you can’t wait for winter. Maybe you’ve already figured out how many days stand between you and spring. No matter how you feel about snow and cold, you live in Wisconsin and it is time to get ready for winter driving.

Start with these five steps:

1. Pack a winter emergency box. These supplies could make a big difference if bad weather or car trouble left you stranded – flashlight, first aid kit, blanket, gloves, hats, jumper cables, ice scraper, a small shovel, kitty litter or sand and non-perishable food (like nuts). And dress appropriately when you head out in the winter. Sure, you might just be running to the store or going to a fancy party, but a flimsy jacket and the wrong kind of shoes could be a big mistake if you have car problems.

2. Give your car the once over. You’re already following all of your manufacturer’s routine maintenance recommendations (of course!). Now check out what the experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) have to say about winter prep.

A few things to pay special attention to:

  • Fluid levels. Your car needs a wide variety of fluids to function properly: coolant, antifreeze, oil, windshield wiper fluid, coffee (ok, that one’s for you). It’s critical to make sure these fluids are topped off, flushed (when appropriate) and that you’re using “winter grade” versions as you head into sub-zero temps.
  • Tires. No one wants to find out the hard way—say, mid-skid—that their tires aren’t quite up for another winter.  The penny test is an easy way to check your treads and it’s also important to check your tire pressure. You might also want to consider snow tires.
  • Windshield wipers. A good wiper makes a big difference on a slushy road. Make sure yours can handle whatever fellow drivers throw at you.

3. Keep it clean. Salt, sand and the various chemicals used to keep roads safe and snow-/ice-free can damage your shiny paintjob, rust your car and make it hard to see out your windows. Improve visibility and protect your vehicle with regular car washes.

4. Keep your gas tank full-ish. Sure, you may hate to tie up big bucks by maintaining a full tank of gas, but there are two things to keep in mind: the possibility of condensation building up in the tank and getting into the fuel line if the tank isn’t full and the possibility of getting stranded in bad weather if you run out of gas.

5. Decide if it’s time to buy a car. Worried your current vehicle might not make it through another Wisconsin winter? Summit can help you find a great vehicle and a great loan. Check out our auto buying resources, including personalized help finding and buying a vehicle and free, same-day preapprovals. 

Winter’s coming but, hey, you’re owning it—with a little help from Summit Credit Union!