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10 Questions to ask your mechanic before winter

Christine Bryant is a freelance writer based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She writes for SheKnows, as well as several other publications that include newspapers and magazines. She writes on topics such ...

Ask your mechanic these questions

No one knows more about how to best prepare your car for winter than your mechanic. Before cold weather settles in and snow begins to hit the pavement, here's what you should ask your mechanic about your car's needs this winter.

Tires in snow

Prepping your car for cold weather is one of the most important things you should do before hitting the road this winter. Your mechanic is a useful source of information and can answer all your questions about what your car's needs will be after temperatures drop. Here are 10 questions you should ask your mechanic before winter hits.

1

Are my tires OK for the upcoming winter?

Have your mechanic check the tires on your vehicle for both air pressure and tire tread, says Bret Bodas, director of Automotive Professional Group at RepairPal and a veteran mechanic of more than 20 years.

"Whether you live in a climate prone to rain or snow, you'll need tires that will provide adequate traction to keep you safe on the roads during tough winter weather," he says.

2

Do you use a quality multi-weight oil?

Changing the oil regularly is always a good thing to do. However, it is important that mechanics use a quality multi-weight oil that will allow the engine to function properly while withstanding the cold winter temperatures, says Robert Medved, State Farm safety representative.

3

Is the engine coolant OK for freezing temperatures?

A shop can check to see how well your engine coolant will fare in freezing temperatures — an important detail that is often overlooked but can lead to damage if ignored, Bodas says.

If the antifreeze isn't adequate, your mechanic may need to do as little as add some new fluid or as much as flush and refill the system, Medved says.

4

How are my wiper blades?

These are crucial in preventing poor visibility, as worn wipers can cause dangerous situations when it's raining or snowing, Medved says.

"Many people don't realize how worn their wipers are until they are driving in winter and the wipers either don't clear all the snow or make it difficult to see due to all the areas of the windshield that are missed by worn wipers," he says.

5

How is my wiper fluid?

Just as important as the wiper blades is the wiper fluid. Have your mechanic check your fluid to ensure that it will not freeze while in the reservoir or when it hits the windshield, Medved says.

6

Are my air conditioner and heater operating properly?

Not only does your climate control system keep you warm, but it also keeps your windshield clear via the defroster — which is crucial during those cold winter months, Bodas says.

7

What should be in my trunk?

It's crucial to have a winter survival kit packed in your car in the event you get stuck and remain in your car for an extended period of time. While bottled water, warning flares, blankets and road salt or cat litter are necessities, a mechanic can provide tips on other useful items to have, such as basic tool kits, tow and tire chains and antifreeze.

8

Is my battery charged?

Have your mechanic test your battery at the beginning of the season to make sure it has enough cranking power to withstand the cold, says Joye Griffin, a Jiffy Lube franchisee.

"A weak battery is unreliable and may take longer to start on frigid winter mornings," she says. "To minimize strain, start the vehicle with the heater, lights and window defrosters turned off."

9

How are my air filters?

The engine air filter is like the vehicle's lung, helping the engine breathe as it burns fuel, Griffin says.

"When the filter gets clogged with dirt, leaves or other contaminants, the engine has to work harder to pull clean air into the cylinders, which can reduce fuel economy," she says.

10

How is my vehicle's overall health?

"It's good to have your entire vehicle looked over — completing all needed maintenance before bad weather hits — in order to have any potential safety issues addressed," Bodas says.

This should happen a couple of times during the year, but it's even more important when preparing to drive in winter conditions, he adds.

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