5 Things To Do Before Your First Winter Road Trip

  • Oct 7,2019
Heavy highway traffic in a snowstorm Heavy highway traffic in a snowstorm

The holiday season is finally here, and with it comes many things: comfort food, holiday parties, and spending time with family and friends. With everyone traveling to reconnect with their out-of-town nearest and dearest, it’s no wonder the holidays are the most traffic-heavy time of year. Over 100 million people took to the roads for the holidays in 2018! How many will be hitting the highways in 2019?

Traffic isn't the only concern drivers have while traveling during the holiday season. Snowstorms, rain, and sleet can roll in any time. Thankfully, these threats don’t have to slow you down, or worse, leave you stranded. Before you hit the road this holiday season, here are some ways to prepare your vehicle for that first winter road trip.

1. Get your battery tested.

Everything from the engine to the radio relies on your battery, and cold can impact your battery more than you think. A cold battery is not only trying to warm itself up, but it’s also trying to get everything else in your vehicle running as well, such as your engine.

Plus, your engine’s oil thickens as temperatures drop. The thicker the oil, the more power your car battery requires to move it to where it needs to be. With all this strain, it’s no wonder your battery has a higher chance of kicking the can during the winter months.

Luckily, a battery test at Firestone Complete Auto Care can give you a comprehensive look at your battery's charge. This quick and simple test can save you a lot of heartache down the road. Imagine your car not starting after you stop for gas, halfway between grandma’s gravy and who-knows-where.

2. Check your windshield wipers.

Nothing is more frustrating than driving down the highway and turning on your wipers, only to realize they're making it harder to see! Old wiper blades can smudge your view, make horrible scraping noises, and even scratch the windshield glass. Layer on dirty road slush and flurries of snow and you've got a recipe for disaster.

Replacing your windshield wipers is an easy thing to overlook. But when you need a clear view of the road, the quality of your wipers makes all the difference. Have your wipers blades replaced every 6-12 months.

The correct windshield wipers should sit firmly against your windshield and apply even pressure. Bring your vehicle to Firestone Complete Auto Care for TRICO® wiper blades and we'll top off your wiper fluid, too.

3. Get an oil change.

Many technicians will tell you that changing your oil is the easiest way to extend the life of your vehicle. This is especially important during winter. Motor oils are rated for cold resistance. So, having a less-than-ideal oil in your engine during a cold season could mean sludgy oil and poor engine performance.

Before embarking on your winter road trip, schedule an oil change to get the best cold-rated oil for your vehicle. Even if you aren’t due for an oil change, it might be best to go ahead and get fresh oil that's designed specifically to withstand lower temperatures. This simple to-do will better prepare you and your engine for the long (and potentially icy) road ahead.

4. Get winter tires.

If you thought winter tires are just regular tires that say “Winter” on the side, think again! There are many benefits to installing a complete set of winter tires on your vehicle, especially for a long drive or winter road trip. Here’s a quick look at the differences between winter tires and other tires when put to the test in low temperatures.

Non-winter tires Winter tires
Stopping Power Low stopping power due to decreased traction from shallow treads Increased stopping power from deeper, cold-weather optimized treads
Traction Poor traction, as normal rubber hardens in the cold and will struggle to grip the road Better traction, since the rubber in winter tires remains pliable in low temperatures, keeping the tire from hardening and offering better grip
Handling Unreliable handling since the tread is not designed for icy conditions Steady handling, as deep tread grooves help maintain traction and handling in wet, snowy, or icy conditions

Knowing the benefits of winter tires is important. Winter tires can help reduce the risk of a blowout and increase your steering control in icy conditions. When freezing temperatures hit, winter tires can help you get to your holiday destination safely.

5. Get a Courtesy Check at Firestone Complete Auto Care.

Before embarking on your holiday travels, give yourself peace of mind by having your entire vehicle inspected. There’s no easier way to do that than with a Courtesy Check from Firestone Complete Auto Care. We’ll check your battery, tires, wipers, fluids, belts, and more so you can hit those snowy roads with confidence. Schedule your appointment and stop by your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care today!

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