(KFVS) - Keeping your vehicle in good shape is always important, but is especially critical during the winter.
Winter conditions like extreme cold, snow and ice make it especially important that everything is working at top performance.
A breakdown or even just a flat tire can be life-threatening.
I took my FJ Cruiser to Raben Tire for a winter check-up.
The FJ is a great off road vehicle and can plow through a foot of snow, but going off-road in the winter means that you better be prepared.
The first thing they checked were the tires. With tires getting more expensive, sometimes we might be letting them go a little too long before replacing them. But slick conditions, of course, make good tread and traction critical.
I had plenty of tread, but they noticed that my brake pads are getting a bit thin, so I'll probably replace those soon.
It's also important to keep your tires properly inflated. You can find the manufacturer's recommended pressure inside the door panel of your vehicle. Don't go by the pressure listed on the tire itself.
Next, they checked the battery. Cold weather puts a real strain on your battery, so if you have an older battery you might find yourself stranded in the first arctic outbreak. My battery was about 7 years old, and sure enough, a test showed that it was getting weak and needed to be replaced.
Last but not least they checked the coolant in the radiator. In the winter, coolant (we used to call it anti-freeze) lowers the freezing point of water so that even if temps fall way below freezing, the fluid in your radiator and engine won't freeze.
My coolant was getting old and wimpy so they replaced it. I am told that I'm good down to -34°F now. I like to take road trips in the winter but not to Siberia.
As a last personal tip, always be aware of the weather along your route and at your destination because in the winter it can change dramatically in a short distance. I always have proper clothing for the worst conditions I'm likely to encounter, in case I get stuck or worse yet have to hike out for help.
Here's a list of recommended items you should have for winter travel:
- Full tank of gas (if you get stuck you can run the car occasionally for heat…but make sure to keep the tailpipe clear).
- Ice scraper/snow brush
- Safety flares
- First aid kit
- Cell phone charger
- Water and high-energy snacks
- Warm clothes/gloves/boots etc.
- Jumper cables
- Automotive fire extinguisher