Chicago Auto Show Blog

Tips to Preparing Your Vehicle for the Cold Weather

Posted by: Annamarie Beretta

As the weather begins to change it's important to prepare your ride for the cold. Just as warm weather cause overheating or a failed battery, cold weather can also effect the capabilities of your vehicle. Taking precaution now is an important way to reduce the risk of getting stranded at the side of the road. Here are a few tips to get your vehicle ready for the changing season.


  • Get your car detailed: Making sure your car is clean and has a good coat of wax will go a LONG way toward protecting the finish during Chicago's harsh winter weather. While road salt might be your best friend in the snow, it's extremely hard on your vehicle's finish.
  • Replace your wiper blades: Replacing wiper blades is an important task as they clear the windshield for optimal road visibility. The rubber should be flexible, blades should not be worn or cracked. In fact, most manufacturers make special "winter" wiper blades that are designed to better clear snow and avoid getting caked with ice.
  • Inspect your heater/defroster: Staying warm is a must for winter drivers and it's important to make sure your heater as well as your defrosters are working. Also, if your vehicle has a cabin air filter, make sure to replace it if necessary.  
  • Check your lights: Headlights, parking lights, brake lights, taillights, and emergency flashers should all be replaced if damaged.  
  • Test your brakes and tires: Good brakes are especially important in the cold months as ice and snow may cover the ground. Tire pressure drops as when the temperature lowers so make sure to adjust your tire pressure (check vehicle recommendation). You will need to replace the tires if the wear bars are showing. A quality set of all-season (or even snow) tires are a Chicago "must have," so be certain that you have the proper tires on your car. If your vehicle's tire does not have an M+S rating, it should not be driven in the snow.
  • Check your battery: Starting your car can be a challenge on cold early mornings so make sure your battery is fully charged. Beware of loose connections, corrosion, or other signs of damage. Almost any repair facility will perform a battery check at no charge.
  • Look under the hood: Check for cracks, loose connections, leaks, fraying, sputtering, loud engine noises, or other abnormalities that may occur. Have a mechanic inspect the area if repairs need to be made.
  • Refill coolant/antifreeze: When temperatures drop, antifreeze is crucial to ensure your engine runs properly. Coolant may get diluted during the summer months so checking the level is important. Add half water to half coolant if the level is too low.
  • Check your oil: Make sure you consider the date of your last oil change in case your vehicle is due. If oil looks dirty or dirty, take it in to be changed.
  • Monitor fluid/fuel levels: Brake and power steering, washer, and transmission fluid need to be at safe levels or refilled. Fuel levels should never go too low because moisture can condense in your fuel system.
  • Keep a kit on hand: Being safe and prepared includes keeping a cold weather kit. Keep an ice scraper, blanket, flashlight, gloves, first aid, jumper cables, and other materials on hand just in case you need them in an emergency.
  • Drive carefully: Keeping your car well maintained is important but being a safe driver is just as imperative. Road and weather conditions change making it difficult to handle the vehicle at times. Paying close attention and staying focused is key. Stay away from distractions such as handheld devices, loud abrupt noises, or other disturbances.

Take your car in for regular maintenance and pay attention to changes in appearance, sound, and quality. These tips will not only help you be prepared but also help you feel safe and confident in the cold weather. 

You can find a list of new-car dealer service centers on Click here for more information. 

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