Winter is coming, so get your car ready

On 9NEWS Mornings, we’ll hear from experts about getting your car ready for winter. 

KUSA - Winter is coming. That’s just a fact, not something predetermined by a trendy book series.

You may be ready, but what about your car? There’s a lot to think about, and chances are you may be new to Colorado, or maybe you’re shirking your duties as a driver leading into the snowy season.

Let’s start with your tires.

TIRES

There’s a lot to worry about when it comes to tires. The type, the tread, and air pressure.

9NEWS talked with a few auto shops about getting your winter preps all squared away.

It’s especially important to know what kind of tires are on your car.

“Maybe you just moved in from Florida or a warm weather state and you might not have those all season tires. Get those checked out,” said Steve Spahn, the owner of Honest 1 Autocare.

Another thing to worry about is the tread. Are your tires still legally good?

We talked with Steve Utter, the area manager of Firestone Tires in Denver, about the easiest way to check if your tires are good. You just need a quarter and a penny.

“If you take a quarter and stick it upside down in the tread… if you can see the top of George Washington’s head that’s usually right at 4/32nds,” he said. “That means that It’s right at the still good to use.

“However if you take a penny and stick it in the tread, and see the top of Lincoln’s head, when it’s fully in the groove… that tire actually considered to be legally wore out and should be replaced.”

The last thing is air pressure.

Tires naturally lose air over time, and changes in temperature can make it worse.

You can find how much air pressure you should have on the tire or inside your driver’s side door. 

BATTERY

Great, so you know your tires are good to go for the snow. But will your car start?

Let’s talk batteries. When was the last time you replaced your car battery? If it’s been two or three years, it’s probably time to get it checked. The last thing you want is to clean all the snow off your car and then it won’t start.

“First thing is your battery you want to get your battery checked,” Spahn said. “Here, we test it, make sure it has the right amperage… it has the right charge and everything like that. Once it gets cold, that puts more stress on the battery and that should be tested to see if it’s ready to go for winter.”

Another key indicator of a bad battery is if there is a dry, white or greenish “foam” around your terminals. That is a tell-tale sign that your juice is running out.

HEAT

Also good to check right now, before it’s too late: does your heat work? If it’s not blowing hot, check your coolant levels. Your heater uses the coolant to blow hot air.

“Your heater runs off your cooling system of the engine,” Spahn said. “It’s your radiator, and your anti-freeze. The heat exchanges from the engine into the cabin. Really it’s a matter of checking your coolant in your engine. You want to make sure it’s full. If it’s not full, you’re not going to get heat.”

Also have a mechanic check the mixture. In Colorado, coolant should be 50/50. If it’s not, there’s a chance for it to freeze, and crack your engine.

WINDSHIELD WIPERS

These are something you never know is bad until it’s too late. When was the last time you used your wiper blades? Are they leaving streaks? Time to replace them. Are they not grabbing the windshield like they should? Time to replace them. In fact, it may be worth starting winter with a fresh pair anyways.

“With the amount of sun we get in Colorado most of the year, wiper blades tend to dry out and we don’t think much about how well they’ll perform until we really need them, when it’s wet and snowy outside.,” Utter said.

While you’re thinking about replacing the blades, consider what kind you want.

The older-style metal frame ones are less expensive, but they’re also more vulnerable to the cold weather. The frame will become more rigid, and it won’t hug your windshield correctly.

A newer mono-beam style of wiper blade is made from rubber and will cost you a bit more, but will stay conformed to your windshield.

Sure, there’s plenty to be concerned about actually driving in the snow. But since it’s not here just yet, right now it’s time to focus on making sure your car is ready for the changing season.

9NEWS at 7 a.m. 11/18/16.

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