Reminder: The earliest recorded snowfall in Colorado was September 3.
Winter is coming. Eventually.
Okay, there's still a little bit of summer left. Plus the approximate two weeks of autumn that Colorado gets. However, Colorado winter will be upon us sooner than you might think, and that means that it's never too early to start thinking about winterizing your vehicle. After all, you don't want to find out anything unexpected about your car's engine on the side of a highway in 15 degrees of snowy weather, and that's something that can plausibly start happening in October in Colorado—especially with the possibility of a long, mean winter ahead of us!
To help you avoid any unexpected winter-related repair bills, here are a few things to keep in mind as the weather starts to get colder.
Check Your Tire Health (and That You're Using the Right Ones!).
Any loss in tire pressure can translate to problems pretty quickly on a cold day. The grip patterns on tires are designed around them being properly inflated, so low tire pressure can negatively impact how well your vehicle handles in snow and ice. Additionally, tires with a low pressure are more likely to burst as the result of hitting debris in cold conditions as well, and nobody likes changing a flat in the snow! This is one thing that you want to keep an eye on periodically through the winter, as rapid temperature changes can impact your tires fast.
In addition to pressure, you'll want to make sure that the overall health of your tires is in good condition as well. Check to make sure that the tread wear bars aren't showing BEFORE the weather starts getting snowy. These bars are little ridges on the inside of your tire's treads that check how evenly tires are being worn down. If they're almost gone, it's time to think about a replacement.
While you're thinking about getting new tires, you should probably ask your dealership or mechanic if they recommend snow tires for your car. Colorado winters can be especially damp and slick, meaning that snow tires can make the difference between a smooth drive and a chaotic one.
Make Sure That Your Coolant System Can, Uh, Stay Warm.
Coolant is a word that's weird to associate with staying hot in the winter, but this system does more than just cool off the engine in your car. Most of the heat that comes out of your car's vents is produced by a series of vents in your coolant system that are designed to pull heat away from the engine. If your car's coolant system starts to have troubles, your morning commute will be a LOT chillier for it.
Checking your coolant system is one of the easiest things on this list, however, and you don't need to do it super frequently. Before October is over, it's a good idea to grab a digital multimeter that's able to check your coolant system. As long you get an all-clear, then you probably won't have to worry about it until next winter. If your car's heat feels unresponsive, however, checking it again should be one of the first things that you try.
Are Your Windshield Wipers Ready for the Snow?
Getting caught in an unexpected snowfall can be stressful. Getting caught in an unexpected snowfall when you can't see out of your car is objectively terrifying. Winter in Colorado can get pretty slushy, and that means that there are plenty of things on the road that can end up covering the windshield of your car. When you check your car's other systems, just spray some water on your windshield and make sure the wipers can do their job properly. If they're consistently missing spots or starting to tear, it's a good idea to replace them.
In the meantime, you might as well give some love to one of your car's most underappreciated tanks and refill your windshield wiper fluid. Most people don't think about the contents of their windshield wiper tank until after their car keeps loudly reminding it to refill them. Top off your tank and then pat yourself on the back for being proactive in a way that few other people are. In addition to keeping your windshield clean, windshield wiper fluid will also prevent things from freezing on it, making it super useful if you're ever caught in the snow.
Don't Forget Your Battery!
It shouldn't come as a surprise that cold weather is rough on car batteries, especially if you park your car outside. Car batteries in particular can be a surprisingly frequent source of breakdowns, as they don't often show warning signs until they're almost entirely dead. If you start to notice ANY signs that your car battery might be on its last legs, then it's a good idea to take it in for replacement ASAP. These warning signs can include flickering headlights, frequent backfires, and a general lack of responsiveness when you start your car.
Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that's why it's a good idea to check your car battery BEFORE any problems have the opportunity to show up. Double-check how old your battery is when you have the chance. If it's more than three years old, it's a good idea to bring it into a garage or dealership to get tested. Remember that a battery's health can also be impacted by corroding connections and posts, so make sure to get those checked as well! When in doubt, just spring for a new one–even a fancy car battery is cheaper than a breakdown.
What else are you doing to prepare your car for winter? Sound off in the comments.