Winter Driving Checklist

Top 7 Tips To Prepare Your Vehicle For The Winter

Between unpredictable weather and road conditions, winter is always the sketchiest time of year to drive. There are way more accidents, and if you are driving through the Colorado mountains, there’s a chance that you can get stranded in the middle of a blizzard. So, just like you prep your wardrobe for winter, you need to prep your car. Here are the top 7 things that you need to do to winterize your vehicle this year.

Get Your Car Serviced

Servicing your vehicle takes the number one spot on the list because the last thing you want is to break down in a wicked Colorado blizzard. Have your local service center change any fluids reaching their expiration and perform a multi-point inspection to identify any weak points in your vehicle.

Need DMC to take care of this for you? Book your service here.

Make Sure Your Tires Are Ready (tire type, tread, and pressure)

If you’ve ever spent time driving on snow or ice (which is probably a yes since we’re in Colorado), then you know traction is an issue. Every year there are thousands of accidents due to loss of traction. That’s why we recommend avoiding trouble by purchasing proper snow tires before winter begins.

Why are snow tires better than regular tires and even all-terrain tires? Well, here are a couple of crucial differences.

  • Material: 
    • Snow tires are made out of a softer rubber that doesn’t harden when it gets cold outside. In warm weather conditions, you wouldn’t want this because you would quickly wear your tires out. However, in cold weather, this provides you with optimal traction for all road conditions.
  • Tread pattern: 
    • A set of dedicated winter tires has a directional tread pattern. To put it simply, they look like they have arrowhead patterns that are pointing forward. This allows the tire to maintain your direction on ice or when hydroplaning. 

Lastly, be sure that you have enough tread on your tires to safely drive on ice. Because, what’s the point of having snow tires if they’re bald? Also, keep an eye on your tire pressure. Air condenses in the cold, which means your tire pressure will drop.

Check Your Battery

Car batteries lose around 35% of their cranking power when it’s close to freezing outside. On top of that, motor oil is thicker at low temperatures making your engine harder to turn over, which puts a heavier load on the battery. That is why it is way more common for weak batteries to die in the cold rather than the heat. If your battery is old or has had excessive wear, be sure to have it checked during your pre-winter car service.

Use Proper Windshield Washer Fluid

Not being able to see while you’re driving is dangerous and frustrating. Dirty snow and ice build-up can cause limited sight, but the right washer fluid can help. Be sure you’re using a washer fluid that won’t freeze and contains de-icer. It is also a great idea to periodically top off your fluid because you never know when you’re going to need it.

Check Your Coolant & Use The Right One

Engine coolant, also referred to as antifreeze, is intended to keep your engine from overheating. This can quickly happen in that stop and go I-70 ski traffic. Engine coolant is a mixture of water and a chemical solution that prevents water from freezing in cold weather. Typically, the blend between these two substances is 50/50, but we recommend a 60/40 split between antifreeze and water for our freezing cold Colorado winters. However, if you live in a high altitude area, like South Fork Colorado or Silverton, we recommend an even greater ratio of 70/30 antifreeze to water.  

Inspect Your Windshield Wipers

Not being able to see in a snowstorm is a great way to run off the road or get in a wreck. Making sure you have sufficient washer fluid is not enough. That’s why you also need to check the condition of your wiper blades. Ensure that the whole blade is contacting the windshield and consider installing heavy-duty blades to deal with ice build-up that occurs during our cold Colorado snowstorms. .

Put Together An Emergency Roadside Kit

If all else fails and you do happen to get stuck or stranded, carry an emergency roadside kit! Here is our recommendation for an ideal roadside kit:

  1. Salt bag (for traction when you’re stuck)
  2. Snow shovel
  3. Snowbrush w/ ice scraper
  4. Flashlight w/ extra batteries
  5. Window washer solvent
  6. Jumper cables
  7. Gloves, socks, hat, and a blanket
  8. Extra jacket
  9. Triangle reflectors
  10. Non-perishable snacks
  11. Phone & phone charger
  12. First aid kit

Additionally, if you drive an SUV or truck, consider carrying a recovery kit to help others that may be stranded on the side of the road.
This concludes our winter driving checklist. If you need help winterizing your car, feel free to reach out to the Durango Motor Company Service Center. If you need to pick up a recovery kit for your vehicle, please reach out to the folks at DGO Autogear.

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