With fall and winter approaching, it’s time to consider what to do to prepare your car for snow and icy conditions that will come soon to Springfield. Are you prepared for a light snow? Ice on the roads? What will you do if the car stalls in a blizzard?
Here’s some suggestions for getting you and your car winter-ready again:
Train yourself to check the MoDOT website before each trip
The most important thing to update for cold weather is you, the driver! With as many devices and gadgets as most people own nowadays, it makes great sense to make a check of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT)’s Traveler Information website before leaving on a trip. The MoDOT website gives real-time updates on road conditions you can prepare for while still in the safety of your own home. (The best disaster is the one you miss altogether, after all.)
Here’s a tip: add a winter keychain item as a reminder-- something like a winter scene, a polar bear, a Santa Claus toy that can attach to your keys for the season. Whenever you pick up your keys and see the winter keychain, you’ll remember to check the MoDOT website before leaving the house to get a better idea of what you’ll face on your trip.
Build an emergency kit
The worst part of a breakdown is not being prepared for a breakdown, and the long wait for help to arrive. Be prepared to handle some of your emergencies by building yourself an emergency kit to take good care of your family until you can get back on the road again, or get a ride home.
While it’s better to be safe than sorry, there’s only so much gear a person can take in a specific car… so consider this advice specific to SUV and mini-van users, and pare it down accordingly to what can fit comfortably in your vehicle:
First aid kit - You can buy them, or just make one yourself. include bandages, disinfectant, ibuprofen, and any necessary medications.
Jumper cables - It’s best not to rely on another driver or AAA to help you out when your car stalls. If you don’t have a set, get yourself some jumper cables.
Tire inflator - there are great units that plug directly into your car’s cigarette lighter that are very reasonably priced; invest in one.
Small toolbox - including a back-up ice scraper, pliers, wrench, screwdriver, and a A small shovel.
Flashlight - a solar powered one that sits in your back window drawing power all the time is ideal... we can recommend the Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight, for all it's virtues. It has an emergency flash mode to warn approaching drivers away from hitting a stalled vehicle and can recharge a cellphone if your car battery dies. Otherwise, get a cranked flashlight, or one with extra batteries!
Emergency clothes - Extra mittens or gloves, socks, a warm cap, stretch pants, and rain gear.
Blankets - bring some, and/or sleeping bags, and perhaps a towel or two if possible.
Sandbag - a small bag of sand in case you get stuck in the snow, to use for traction under your wheels. This may seem odd to bring a small shovel AND a bag of sand, but remember, if the ground freezes up, finding sand for traction may be difficult.
Flag - A brightly colored cloth to use as a flag to signal, or road flares, or a flashlight that can signal drivers away from your stalled vehicle.
Nonperishable foods - peanut butter, trail mix, jerky, and tinned meats in case you are stuck overnight… don’t forget plastic utensils, paper plates, and napkins!
Bottled waters - in addition to the bottles of water, it might also be helpful to put some drink sachets (Crystal Light or other brands) in for the kids in case they want something with a little flavor to distract them from a long breakdown.
Install All-Weather Floor Mats
It’s a simple thing, but buying a set of all-weather floor mats is a good step towards caring for your car. it will help protect your car from the things that come in with you on your shoes: snow, dirt, rain, etc.
Get your car serviced
The best maintenance is always preventative maintenance. Add dangerous, potentially lethal weather to the usual issues in your car, and it becomes even more crucial. It will save you time, trouble, and money to stay ahead of the issues your car has.
This is especially true of a European car, that needs parts and care from a trained specialist to survive and thrive. Getting service for the winter months ahead is just good, proactive car care. And the money you invest on the front end will save you from the expenses that come from taking shortcuts with European auto repair.
Get your car inspected and checked out for the following items before the bad weather starts:
- The Oil Filter and Oil - If it’s been awhile since you last changed your filter, remember that the fall season includes a lot of travelling and you’re very busy, expected to be places. Getting this done a bit early can help you prevent waiting too long later.
- Check Your Heat - If your defroster is not working properly, or you can’t seem to get enough heat out of your car to warm the car, don’t delay-- bring that car in for service. A fogged window is a window you can’t see out of properly. And you do not want to be caught somewhere with no heat in a snowstorm.
- Check the Brakes - Once the roads begin to ice, small issues with your brakes instantly turn into big ones. If something doesn’t feel quite right, or the brakes have begun to squeal, the best time to act is before the avoidable accident. And should we find you need work on your brakes, this month is Brakes For Breasts, so you can count on a good deal for brake work AND a contribution to a worthy charity (see below for more details).
- Check the Lights - Cold weather challenges visibility, and your lights are there to make sure other cars can see you. A quick review of your car’s lights is a good idea. Put the car in Park, leaving the engine running, and walk around it, checking to see if the lights are working. Test the brake lights and reverse lights. If someone seems to be out of balance or not working, bring your car in and get that taken care of as soon as you can.
- Check the Battery - A quick check of the battery is in order. Open the hood and look for the signs of corrosion (usually a white foam on the terminals, that is corrosive acid, so be careful about coming into contact with it.
- Belts and Hoses - The harsh weather ahead will make your hoses and belts even more brittle than they are. It’s important to have someone who knows what to look for inspect these elements for signs of collapse.
- Top Up the Fluid Levels - Your car has a number of fluids that need replacing. Small breaks and errors in your car can cause leaks that bleed out the vital fluids in your car, including oil, brake fluid, coolant, power steering, transmission, and windshield wiper fluid. At Complete, we do what we call a Pit Stop program-- a complimentary service of Fluid refill as needed between services, to make sure you have what you need.
- Give the Tires Your Attention - While snow tires can be a consideration for rural drivers, the most important consideration for the average driver in Springfield is, how well are my tires holding up at the moment? Inspect the tires for the kind of damage that summer can bring. You’ll need to check to make sure the tread wear is even, that there’s still enough tread to get good traction, and that the tires are inflated to the optimal level.
The emergency kit, the checking of the MoDOT website, and the floor mats are things you can easily accomplish yourself, and can even be fun family projects. For the actual maintenance on your car, bring it into Complete Auto for service and let us make sure your car has the attention it needs to get you and your family safely through the coming winter!
During the month of October, we are giving away FREE quality brake pads or shoes. All you pay for is the labor and any other necessary parts. 10% of these proceeds will go towards research for the Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Fund. Please, help yourself and the greater good by getting your brakes inspected during the month of October. To schedule an appointment, contact the team at Complete Automotive at (417) 319-2434.
This is a reminder that it’s a good time to consider investing in our Lifetime Protect Plan. Having scheduled maintenance that is warrantied nationwide is helpful in our goal to get your vehicle to 300,000 miles and beyond. To schedule fall and winter service inspection, click on this embedded link, or call us for service. Let us show you how to get 300,000 miles or more out of your vehicle with proper maintenance!