By on October 9, 2017

Winter city snow

Alert readers will have noted by this time that I have lived my entire life in the refrigerator that is Eastern Canada. Snow appears early, sticks around like an unwelcome houseguest, only to begrudgingly depart sometime after Cinco de Mayo. My father often says his retirement plan consists of loading a snowblower into the bed of a pickup truck and heading south. The first place he stops where someone asks “What’s that?” is where he makes his new home.

On Friday, I regaled you with my tale of finally paying off a car (thanks for the kind words in the comments, readers). Since I’ll be keeping the Charger, and live well into the snow belt, I will soon need to get it ready for winter.

Some of you lucky sods reading this don’t experience snowy weather. Year-round sunshine and top-down driving is the order of the day for you lot. I don’t wish harm on any person but if any sunlover burns their hand on a metal belt buckle while strapping themselves into a convertible during the month of February, I may just grin while heaving shovelfuls of snow around the driveway.

Right now, I have a quartet of Goodyear Nordic winter tires mounted on a factory set of 18-inch Dodge Charger rims ready to be tossed on the inky-black sedan once temperatures approach icebox levels. Actually, it is better to install winter tires before the first snowfall, ideally once temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides, waiting until the first storm of the year ensures an interminable wait for service at Canadian Tire as the entire town all shows up at the same time.

Tossing a shovel in the trunk doesn’t go astray, and it goes without saying that a couple of snow brushes and scrapers need to be tossed under the front seats to stand at the ready on frosty mornings. Again, readers in SoCal are probably laughing into their artisan bottled water.

Around here, though, such preparations are necessary. Many of you correctly recommended that I get the Charger undercoated immediately, given my failure to do so upon its purchase in 2012.

What do you do, if anything, to get your ride ready for the cruelest months?

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106 Comments on “QOTD: How Do You Prepare for Winter’s Wrath?...”


  • avatar
    tonyola

    No winter wrath here in Miami, unless you count short-tempered snowbirds.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Snow tires… and an oil change.

    Other than that – throw the dice and see what happens. Usually an older battery will go.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      ^^ What he said.

      One of my quirks: I try to rinse off the car in the garage after *every* exposure to salt, especially the undercarriage, since rust never sleeps. Warm garages are rust accelerators.

      But not everybody can do this.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Yep my folks have a heated garage and its wreaked havoc on all of their cars so far. Their 2007 Fit is now starting to show some rust bubbling up where the rear bumper mounts to the quarter panels.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    1. Check wipers, replace if needed
    2. Top off windshield washer fluid
    3. Check winter tires, replace if needed (our Michelin X-Ice’s are still great)
    4. Wear warm driving droves (finally splurged on a nice pair of Dents)
    5. Wash the car inside and out one last time
    6. Apply yearly rustproofing in Oct
    7. Ensure the car is mechanically sound

    • 0 avatar
      Ubermensch

      Make sure to check those Michelin’s closely and Michelin tires tend to dry-rot.

      • 0 avatar
        Cactuar

        I will take a close look thanks. It will be their third winter this year.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Weather or ozone checking is the proper term and Michelins are particularly sensitive to it but many times it’s just cosmetic. A millimeter or less is nothing to worry about and it doesn’t tend to be troublesome until around 2mm.

        More often than not you see it on vehicle’s that aren’t daily driven and spend long periods just sitting exposed to the elements. Especially during the summer.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Rain-X does wonders for salty, road grine.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      Topping off the washer fluid as winter prep is not good enough. I make a point of topping off before taking my car for any service, especially oil changes at the quickie places. The weak sauce that they use for washer fluid is guaranteed to freeze up just a few degrees blow freezing. I don’t give them the chance to screw things up by filling the reservoir with the good stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        This is sage advice. I’ve always used the RainX orange and I wish they sold something you could attach to the filler cap to keep some helpful soul from topping it off with the cheap stuff. I’ve spent a few curse-filled evenings with the plastic tubing and a hand pump draining the cheap stuff out.
        I use the orange stuff year round in everything I own.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    My non-winter maintenance schedule is so fastidious, there usually isn’t much mechanical work for me to do to prepare for the white stuff. Since my DD is FWD, I just double check the jumper cables are in the back and toss in a “just in case” roadside survival bag. Aside from commuting, I usually don’t venture far enough off the beaten path to be too concerned.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Thick coat of sealant/wax….maybe rotate the tires…and dig the scraper out of the closet.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    A joke from long in the past.
    For safe driving during the Holiday season use chains when required. Even in Southern California.
    Obtain a suitable length of chain. Wrap it around a strong part of the auto frame. The other end will go around a large water pipe in your garage. Attach the ends of the chain together with a strong padlock.
    This will ensure safe driving during this time of year when the alcohol consumption of drivers is often more than the amount of ethanol in the gasoline.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    Good winter tires will make the biggest difference. All season tires work OK in the southern half of the US, and fair in the northern half. They are for the lazy owners, who use their cars as tools to get from one place to another, and want to think about them as little as possible.
    But car enthusiasts reading this blog should know better. If your state has real winters, you must get winter tires. They are the safest tires for cold weather. They are not only for snow and ice but for cold temperatures as well. All season and summer tires stiffen up in lower temperatures and their friction drops even on dry roads.

    Also replace your wipers if they leave streaks. The dealership replaces all 3 on my car for under $30, if you do it yourself, it’ll be cheaper.

    Always have all the wiper fluid reservoirs full with cold weather fluids. You may want to carry a gallon of fluid in your trunk for long snowy drives.

    You should also have an ice scraper and a snow brush in the trunk of behind the driver’s seat. A shovel can come very handy when you are snowed in after a snow storm.

    Warm gloves!!!

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    question for the B&B. (I could ask Google but your responses are usually more interesting) I recently picked up a set of aftermarket alloys mounted with Blizzacks for my wife’s Enclave. The tires have good tread depth but were made in 2010. Will being nearly 8 years old (stored indoors when not in use) negatively impact their winter traction?

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      Theoretically yes. In reality, there are to many variables to know for sure. The only safe bet is to replace them.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      Yes.

      However, I don’t have a problem using those for about 10 years.

      I know 8 years is “officially” the life of a tire, but if they are winter-only wheels, then they are:
      1. In harmful light for less than 1/2 their life
      2. the definition of winter = shorter days = Less sun exposure
      3. the definition of winter2 = less direct sun = less sun exposure

      So I would feel comfortable going to 10 years on a passenger vehicle as long as there is no dry rot and no extremely heavy loads right at the tire cap

      • 0 avatar
        kcflyer

        Thanks for both replies. I was satisfied that the wheels alone were a fair purchase for the price I paid for the wheels and tires. So I will try them for a few days after the first snow hits and If I end up replacing the tires I won’t be too disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      What do you consider good tread depth. Winter tire mfgs will mostly tell you that when the depth hits 6/32″ of tread they are no longer suitable as winter tires and some states have laws to that effect. Some Continental tires have D W S in the blocks around the outer edge of the tire and once they hit 6/32″ that S goes away followed by the W disappearing at 4/32″.

      Bilzzack and all Bridgestone tires are also known for not staying round assuming they actually came out of the box round in the first place. So I’d personally consider them done and get some new ones.

      • 0 avatar
        kcflyer

        Thanks for the specific guidance, I’ll measure the tread depth and compare it to the original specs. I would guess they have about 2/3rds of the original tread but if they measure below factory guidance I will replace them.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Here in CO we get snow, but blessedly salt is not used on the roads so we do not have to worry about the tin worm. CDOT does however aggressively use Magchloride on the highways to prevent black ice from forming.

    Magchloride is gross. It is a sticky mixture that does not eat metal, but eats just about everything else. It pits (fake) chrome, wheels and will eat porcelain brakes if left to sit too long. So for winter I try to have my cars stripped down with a clay bar and a heavy coat of wax buffed in to help protect the paint. I am pretty freaky about running through the car wash as soon as the roads are clear to get the magchloride garbage off. Fortunately for us this is a two day process most of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Winter up in the mountains is a whole different ball game than here in Denver or the Front Range. In Denver, you tend to get a lot of 2-4 inch snowfalls, but they always seem to start right around 2 in the afternoon, right in time to f**k up 25 (which doesn’t take much under the best of circumstances). If you have a FWD car with good all weather tires, you’re generally OK for anything up to around 8-10 inches of snow, and if it gets worse than that, your’re best off not tooling around anyway.

      And those piles of snow on north facing surfaces NEVER FREAKIN’ MELT. Ever. Doesn’t matter if it’s 30 and cloudy, or 50 and sunny. If they’re in the shade, they NEVER FREAKIN’ MELT. Had a house with a north facing driveway once. Never again.

      Still, winters here are FAR better than other places I lived, especially Iowa.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Had a house with a north facing driveway once. Never again.

        Ding ding – I had the same issue living in Gallup. Lots of days with 0 and below nights with days that hit 45 or 50. Never melted. What was especially maddening was to watch it melt in the driveways across the street! Ugg!

        At least I was just a teacher back then and if school was cancelled I could stay home and shovel my own driveway.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          My old driveway was north-facing AND on an unusually steep incline for the area. Double whammy. I had to shovel the damn thing every time an inch of snow fell, or my old Volvo 740 wagon wouldn’t make it into my garage.

          Meanwhile, the folks across the street had nice, self-melting driveways. I do believe I heard the Trololo song playing one morning as I was shoveling…

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            It’s almost comical now but if I threw down ice melter each granule would make it’s own perfect little hole in the ice and then melt nothing else around it.

            Oh and because apparently the architect was an idiot, the playground at my school faces north. (face-palm) Kind of a big job for just two full time custodians.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        We are likely to retire in Colorado – since I’ve been going there every winter for the past 30 years, it seems like a good move. We are the exception I guess – to me snow is like money…it is possible to have too much but its hard to make that happen.

        Car prep? Like GermanReliability posted above, there is not much else to do. C7 goes on the battery tender and goes to sleep, garage heat is set to 55 unless I’m working in there…we have pretty wimpy winters for the most part in LI NY so even all seasons will do once the roads are plowed. I find the biggest problem to be that many “drive by wire” cars don’t always allow wheelspin which can make it hard to rock out of a space if stuck….ironically GM does make this possible by putting the parking brake on for one click, or shifting into 2nd.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        This is a timely question! Here’s my routine:
        1) haul the snow tires and wheels out of my cellar and up six steps, roll them through the side yard, and lift each one (30+ pounds) into the back of the Tiguan
        2) drive over to Discount TIre, which earns my loyalty by offering free seasonal changeovers.
        3) wait a few hours while they get to it. Shoulda done this last week!
        4) to store the summer set, repeat Step 1 in reverse
        5) enjoy my winter set of shoes. Those 17-inch rims give such a greatly improved ride, I’m kinda sorry when winter ends.
        6) Go home and shop for a deal on a spare wheel set for my new car. It’s about a grand to buy new wheels and snows, but this seems the cheapest and easiest solution.

        So far today, there’s four inches accumulated on my driveway. Shoulda done this last week.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    As an Aussie in Toronto, I find the next six months or so rather annoying but it is what it is.

    I time my oil changes to be done when the tyres need swapping over so I just get them done in one hit. Throw gloves in the car and I do a full wash inside and out. Add deep rubber mats and good to go assuming batteries are not Old.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Mid-Atlantic US here. 1) put on winter wipers 2) top up undiluted wiper fluid 3) keep gloves and a blanket in the car 4) find the windshield scraper and keep it behind the drivers seat.

    I’ve done winter tires before, and they’re great, but just too much trouble and overkill for my climate.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      What the heck are winter wipers?

      First I ever heard about that.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Generally “winter wipers” have the frame that holds the wiper blade swathed in rubber so that the blade works more like a bulldozer to shove the snow out of the way. It also keeps ice from getting jammed in the frame of the wiper and reducing its effectiveness.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Might have to invest in a set.

        • 0 avatar
          arach

          How have I never heard of this… I’ll have to look for them.

        • 0 avatar
          Ubermensch

          Or just buy superior beam wiper blades for the same price and not worry about it.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Winter wipers are very effective. Would not let my family drive a vehicle between November and April that did not have them.

            As for ‘older’ winter tires, it also depends on how they were stored. Heated or unheated garage? Exposed to sunlight or covered? Placed directly on concrete? All these must be considered.

            Our Krown dealer actually recommends applying the treatment in the spring, to combat rusting because it generally occurs then, when the weather gets warmer. They do a complete ‘de-salting’ inside and out prior to applying their protectant.

            Use only the ‘de-icer’ winter windshield washer fluid.

            Give the car a good wash and wax prior to the ‘bad’ weather. Also learned the hard way to spray silicone into the door handles to prevent them from freezing up.

            Keep a stocked emergency kit: booster cables, safety glasses (a must when boosting a battery), flashlight, emergency heat candle, matches, first aid kit, orange folding triangle markers, orange vest, work gloves, emergency blanket, fold-out shove and a small compressor that runs off the vehicle’s lighter/power outlet, some Cliff bars and emergency/folding drinking cups. They all fit into a small hockey bag.

  • avatar
    SearMizok

    Put the snow tires back on, probably around Thanksgiving break, is probably a good time.

    Make sure snow-brush/scraper is in the car, and blanket in the back seat.

    I put the fresh new wiper blades on in the spring, after the winter abuse so I have good blades through the Spring/Summer/Fall before the next winters ice abuse.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    I like the line about driving south until someone does not know what a snowblower is.

    I got that type of reaction from a friend who grew up in Miami and never experienced ice/snow on cars until he was going to school in New England. he was trying to scrape the ice off his windshield with his hands. I pulled out an ice scraper and and he said “what the hell is that”

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Goretex boots and a subway pass.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Mountain Southwest here – we’ll get everything from below 0 and not a flake in sight to just cold enough to snow to 14 to 24 in out of a single storm (the county ranges from 5,500 to about 7,000 ft in altitude).

    There were 7 declared “snow days” last year but my contract stipulates that I’m present and accounted for come heck or high water.

    Stout long handled scraper/snow brush? Check.

    8 plus in of ground clearance? Check.

    Full time 50/50 torque split 4wd? Check.

    All terrain tires with silca enhanced compound and heavy siping, rotated at every oil change? Check.
    (This is my second season with them and I know most AT are crap in the ice and snow – these are AWESOME.)

    Yup I’m ready.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      What brand AT tires please?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Not to be a shill or anything – Hercules Terra Trac AT2

        I would have never heard of them but my local independent tire shop carries the brand (which is owned by Cooper). Unlike Cooper the sipes are cut all the way to the full tread depth.

        I put them on my old F150 and tried the tread pattern out for a year before committing to them on my Highlander. About a month after I put them on the Highlander I was on my way home from Albuquerque. It was already dark and at roughly Prewitt, NM I ran smack into blizzard like conditions. I still had about 50 miles to go to get home. By the time I reached Continental Divide there was 6 to 8 in on the ground and still coming down.

        I was able to track solid straight and true (even changed lanes a few times when the semis were starting to get sideways.) For a medium priced tire that isn’t actually a snow tire, I was very happy.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Good to know! I’m swapping my General Grabber AT2s for General Altimax Arctics on the 4Runner, a do-it-all universal AT with better than average snow performance would have saved me some money.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Around here nobody is going to offer to store your snow tires and I don’t want the hassle. I spent much time on line reading tire reviews (after checking out the brand selection at the tire place) and purposely bought a tire that was available in sizes to fit both vehicles just so I could “beta test” it on the F150 before committing to it on my DD/family truckster.

            Previously the F150 had Definity Dakota AT tires on it (PepBoys – never again) and they were 10 kinds of awful. They didn’t have wet weather grip, never-mind snow.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    The snow tires on my TSX were past their useful tread depth last season when I removed them, so I elected to have the shop throw them away. We’ve had a string of mild winters here in Chicagoland, so I haven’t bought any replacements yet. If we get a bad storm or two I’ll rush some in from Tire Rack, but based on the last 3-4 years I’m not going to bother. We’ll see.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Chris, I didn’t know you had a TSX! Details, please. I want an first gen 6 speed, its my goal when I go on that job in a couple months.

      I know its in Houston (so possible flood, though I doubt it), but this is basically what I want:

      https://houston.craigslist.org/cto/d/2004acuratsx6spdmanualclean/6332517953.html

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I’ve had 2, a 2004 from 2004-2007, and my current 2011 I’ve had 2011-now. The first one was great, the second one is okay but has maddening build quality issues (squeaks, rattles, garbage panel fit) and some known common TSX problems (VTC actuator, bluetooth microphone failure).

        Other than that, for what it is it’s pretty good. Great road car (except for the complete garbage brakes), super comfy, OK power, good handling, not bad ride, and it had a decent feature set at the time for what I paid (~$28k).

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Very nice, thanks for the insight. I’ve always loved the first gen’s styling, so crisp and clean, and I think its exactly what I’m looking for in such a car.

          One question, and you may not remember since you haven’t owned your 2004 in several years, but did it have decent lumbar support? I find with my back issues, that can make a huge difference. Of course I could always have more padding installed by an upholstery shop, but it would be nice if it was already there.

          Corey had several others I should consider, and I probably will check them out before buying a TSX, but if I’m honest, its what I really want, so unless it has something going on that I’m unaware of, its currently at the top of my list.

          Part of me wants a last-gen Prelude, and if I found the right car for a not-insane price, its possible it could be the one, but the TSX will be newer and probably lower miles. I found other TSXs other than the one I showed, and it isn’t the nicest nor the cheapest, but I like it. I would love that darker (of the two) blue color instead of the grey, but the darker grey on that one gives the car a bit more of the understated handsomeness that I like that bodystyle of TSX for anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Preludes are nice, but the time to pick up one for a good price was about five years ago. The clean ones are appreciating already. TSX would be easier to get in and out of, too.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Thanks bumpy ii, I’m sure you’re right.

    • 0 avatar
      Stumpaster

      Sorry for pimping here but I have a set of Blizzak WS80 on steel wheels for your car that I am trying to sell. Less than 2K miles on them. You would save about 40% over TireRack price.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I have a very complex process, forgive me if I lose you half-way through.

    1.I turn the temp selector from the blue side to the red side.

    2.I move the other selector to FLOOR, or DEF or MIX, depending on needs.

    That is all.

    Lol No, it isn’t “top-down” weather year ’round here, but if we get snow, its usually an inch at most and its almost always gone in a few hours. We do have ice more frequently than that, so I take it easy when approaching bridges especially. When I do work/keep a schedule during the winter, I leave an old blanket or towel(s) across my windshield the night before, so I can remove it and be on my way on those frosty mornings.

    I always let my old Taurus complete its warm-up cycle before driving it (really, any car I drive), even in July, so that’s a given. I might give it longer to let the heater/defroster do its job, but no more than a few minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I’m confused.

      OK so what do you do if the car doesn’t have blue and red sides, and has an up and down arrow? Does that mean I should take it to the dealership for those operations?

      Winter is tough!

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Luckily I won’t run into that issue on my car, lol. Nahh, on the rare occasion I drive my parents 2012 Taurus, I’m more enamored by the heated seat than anything. Their EATC works well, except I can’t seem to convince them that the passenger side still works (using the main temp selector) even when the passenger side dial isn’t “on”. *eye roll* Lots of times, I’ve got in the car to drive them somewhere, and the temp is turned down to 60, the vents are manually shut off. “Well it was too cold!” So, instead of adjusting the temp to a comfortable setting, you just closed the vents? I don’t understand that thought process. Their house has a thermostat, yet I don’t go there and find the vents shut and the A/C wide open. No, its set to 73° and it stays there. Why this concept doesn’t carry over to the car, I don’t know.

        I prefer the dials on my car’s HVAC controls compared to the electronic version on the higher end models of that year. They supposedly fixed the buttons that break and the default-to-defroster issue by 1995 (my car’s model year), but I’m not so sure since my parents previous car (2008 Grand Marquis) had that stuck-on-defroster issue while they had it. I’ll just keep my low-tech dials for my old Taurus.

        Maybe the TSX I’m talking about in the thread above this one won’t have EATC issues. In my research and talking to previous owners on here, nobody has mentioned such.

  • avatar
    arach

    I used to live just north of Syracuse New York, in one of the snowiest places in the country. One thing I’ve always noted is the oddity that is that there are 0 snow days, no one crashes, and everyone drives lame FWD cars. I think the SUV proportion in snowy areas is below where it is in the “occaisonally snowy areas”.

    Now I live just north of Cincinnati, which is not a really snowy place, but rather an occaisonally snowy place, where when it snows, everyone in an SUV crashes and highways get closed.

    My ritual is pretty simple:
    1. About this time each year I swap my summer tires for blizzaks in one vehicle- the vehicle we use most in snow and ice, keep truck tires on two vehicles, and leave the others home.

    2. I put into the back an emergency kit + Snow brush, because stuff can happen, and being stuck 8-10 hours without heat could be catastrophic, and I’d rather over-prepare than under prepare

    3. I put a set of tow ropes in my truck and porsche in case I need to pull someone ELSE out. I’ve used the winch on my jeep for this purpose in the past as well. I think its important to be vigilant in helping others who wreck. I find the “wreck-rate” in southern ohio a lot higher than it used to be in upstate new york despite the lower snow and ice amount.

    4. I get a lot of work done on my project cars because when you can’t drive or do anything fun outside, you might as well spend time wrenching in the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      I went to school in Oswego, and I foolishly agreed to drive a friend to Hancock for a early AM flight. I didn’t realize that the day requested was after our Christmas party the night before. So at Oh Dark Thirty I dropped him off and proceeded to drive back in heavy snow. Being severely hung over I was not paying attention and ended up on the outskirts of Watertown…common sense would have said to stay and wait it out but I drove back to Oswego in a Fury with snow tires…no problem!

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Haha! I believe it.

        Oswego- great place to drive a motorcycle to at night during summer. Love the waterfront area… extra cool during concert season.

        Oswego- Awful place to drive anything during winter…

  • avatar
    deanst

    I install winter tires to qualify for an insurance discount, and throw in the ice scrapers and snow brushes in the cars.

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    In my two previous VW TDIs: stretch my back and neck every morning. Because it takes so long for diesels to heat up and any part of the windshields to defrost/defog, I had to contort myself to look out any slightly thawed area. It was a Catch-22 – car won’t heat up unless you drive, and you can’t drive because the car isn’t heated up enough to allow you to see out.

    With a gas car now, I guess I just start it and go.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      thats the one thing I love about my diesel truck…

      It has an auxiliary electric heater that warms the air to thaw the windows before you get rolling!

      Those can’t be THAT expensive, so I wish they were included on other cars.

  • avatar
    raph

    Rental car on tap. It’s cheaper to rent an econobox with full insurance for the few days it snows here in my spot on the mid-Atlantic than it would be to cover the replacement cost of one rim and tire assembly on the GT350 which ranges from 1300-1500 depending on who you source the rim and tire from plus any other damage that might occur if a,minor mishap were to happen.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Winters are generally pretty easy here in Denver – you don’t have to do a whole lot to prepare. I just make sure all the fluid levels are up to snuff, tires rotated, etc.

    The foothills and mountains are another story, of course…

  • avatar
    MBella

    I swap wheels and tires on everyone’s car in early November for their winter set. On my own car I apply two coats of synthetic dealer and one coat of wax.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Since I don’t have storage, the shovel and snow brush never leave my car. Really all I have to do is swap on my winter tires some time in November.

    Really, it’s virtually impossible not to be within walking distance of a Tim Hortons – if I die, it’s natural selection.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Winter tires and wheels and paint sealant, decent snow brushes in the cars. And discount coupons for the only car wash I trust that does a decent job and doesn’t scratch the car. At least once a month. I don’t have the garage to wash indoors.

  • avatar
    alff

    If I think about it I’ll throw a tow strap in the back of the pickup.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Chuck japanese made winter tires on my jap made awd. Throw in a snowbrush and a jug of blue washer fluid.

    A Sprinter comes equipped with a rear fog light as standard for white-out conditions. No such luck with most cars.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Glad I’m retired, ’cause I don’t have to do much at all anymore. Just make sure the car is well-serviced, winter floor mats, scraper/brush in the back, ice-melt for the driveway, snow shovels ready to go.

    As far as commuting? Glad that’s over with.

    Whatever the earth is going through – global warming, climate change, some sort of natural cycle, who knows, but we haven’t had a real winter in the Cincinnati area going on three years now. It’s the 2nd week of October and the AC is still on at home!

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ Zackman..We came within a fraction of 90 F two weeks ago..Its our Thanksgiving and I usually start my fall chores now..? Not this year.

      Like yourself , I have no idea why…?

      Glad your enjoying retirement !

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Zackman,
      Last night at 1 am, I was closing the park where I work as an EMT. I was wearing a short sleeved shirt. This is NE PA. I thought about climate change, but then realized that our esteemed leader had declared it a Chinese hoax. I’m sure glad he straightened our my errant thoughts.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Yeah, it’s weird. Weather was static in my region throughout recorded history up until the last couple years. Now every day is a record high.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Make sure the wiper blades are new and the battery is good.

    “Winter” around here consists of 5 months of 39 degrees and drizzly.

  • avatar
    baggins

    It rains a decent amount out here in coastal calif, but the temps dont often fall below 50 in the daytime, 40 at night. So I make sure the all season tires are have good tread left or I replace them, and I change the wipers.

    Nice and easy

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Here in The Capital of the Free World” winters are highly variable. Some have no measurable snow at all; others have an 18-inch dump that brings the whole place to a standstill. For the last 15 years or so, the DC government has been operated on the principle that job 1 is delivering essential services, like snow removal. So, even the occasional snowmageddon is nothing like it was in the 90s or 80s. Consequently, winter preparation is pretty much limited to replacing wipers (especially that one on the rear window) and taking note of the condition of your all-season tires. If your battery has past its pro-rated warranty expiration and your vehicle spends the night outside, it may fail. You should replace it now, before it does. The exception might be for those fortunate few that have a battery that doesn’t live in the engine compartment. The OEM battery in my Z3 lasted more than 10 years. I only replaced because my indie shop had a great deal on new OEM BMW batteries, and I thought it might fail inconveniently. Top up the washer fluid reservoir with real fluid (watering it down not allowed!). I do not think pumping up your tires in anticipation of cold weather is a good idea in DC. It’s usually not that cold. Newer vehicles’ TPMS will give you a dash readout of each tire’s pressure. Check that before you drive off and make a mental note of how many PSI any tire is below recommended. Then, when you get to a service station, add that many pounds to whatever pressure is indicated once you are at the station. Or, just do what I do and carry a 12-volt tire inflator and pump it up right there before you drive off. The idea of recommended pressure, as indicated by the sticker on the driver side door frame is to optimize the size of the tires’ contact patches. More than that, the contact patch is reduced at the edges; less and it’s reduced at the center.
    When big snow strikes, just go in late or work from home. The federal government is pretty good about that; and most private employers follow the feds’ lead regarding office closing or late arrival. If it strikes while you are at work, don’t join the mob making a parking lot out of the streets. Just stay late at your office and leave after the mob. You probably won’t get home that much later and you will improve your chances of not getting into a fender bender, running out of gas and having to abandon your car, etc. BTW, you should fill up when the gauge says you have half a tank.
    If you are truly indispensable or if you a place in high West Virginia (as I did for 10 years) then 4wd or AWD is a good idea along with 4 spare wheels with a set of Blizzaks or X-Ices mounted on them. I would mount these in mid November and remove them April 1. Also, for that kind of travel, a towing strap, a small spade, a blanket and even a set of cable chains for the rear wheels are good to have. Cable chains are not as effective as real chains, but they’re good enough and a lot easier to handle. I think I used them twice in super-icy conditions in W. Va. where I just had to be on the road.

  • avatar
    George B

    How do I prepare for winter in Plano, TX? I start to use window washer fluid instead of tap water in case we have a hard freeze, add air to all season tires as the temperature drops, and put a jacket in the car in case we have a sudden temperature drop.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I live about 2 miles from the north shore of lake Ontario ..A north wind blowing across the unfrozen lake results in massive snow amounts for the folks south of us . Think Buffalo to Syracuse..For us, a north wind means horrible cold, bit not much snow. When the big storms come in from the west, or up through the Ohio valley we can get hit real bad..The colder climate means instead of melting, we keep the snow.

    In the past I stored my toy cars from Nov-April..These days I only own one vehicle, ( EB Mustang) The down side of retirement. Fixed income and all eh.

    The car goes in for a liberal “Krown application around mid November..I then make an appointment at the Ford dealer..The dealer changes the oil, digs my Michelin X tires, mounted on OEM alloy wheels, out of storage..They in turn, store my “all seasons”and hand me the bill.

    The next step is changing the summer mats over to the Weather Techs. (I do that myself : ) )..I carry two scrappers, two bottles of windshield washer -40 grade, and a blanket. I also keep the gas tank above half (extra weight )

    ….If its going to be real nasty ?..I stock up on necessities, food, Full BBQ tank, and
    beer..The Mustang stays in the garage, and I don’t leave the house…The upside of retirement : )

  • avatar
    TwoBelugas

    I think we had several days of sub 50 degree days last winter. So I guess turn the climate control to “warm”?

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    This was just something I was discussing with the wife and daughter last night. So in the next week or so I’m going to my Son’s house and will supervise them swapping on the winter tires on their car as well as replacing the wipers and in the case of my Daughter’s car it is due for an oil change. I’ll just take a cursory look at the brakes on those as they both got new brakes all around in the last year or so. Then tell my son to put the chains in the trunk of his car, for what ever reason they never came out of the trunk of her car.

    Then I’ll bring the F150 4×4 I keep stationed up there down here to get some winter tires for it, do the wipers and oil change as well as buying some chains for it to throw in the tool box.

    Once that is all done I’ll move on to treat my car and the SUV with the same regimen, purchase new tires for the van and throw the chains in there.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Put my 4Runner on jack stands to take the summer wheels off, while they’re off I do a thorough re-application of Fluid Film. I just buy six-packs of the tall aerosol cans and I have the 4-way extended wand attachment so I can spray inside of frame rails and such. Once that’s done, I put my snow-tire shod wheels on. On the wife’s Camry, I just throw her cheap and awesome heated seat cushion on and make sure she has a brush/scraper and enough washer fluid. First winter with the Pilot, I’m also going to give it the Fluid Film treatment I think, but will not be buying snow tires. It has Michelin LTX all seasons with good tread, they are very well siped and I think do a passable job with our Central Indiana winters.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Thinner oil, snow tires, replace wipers and put anti freeze agent in gas tank.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Put the summer cars in storage with fresh fluids, battery tender, etc.

    Put snow tires on the RWD car.

    Ice scrapers in all the cars.

    Mount the snowplow on the truck, check for proper functioning. Forgot to do this last year and didn’t realize I had an electrical issue until the day of the first lake effect storm. I don’t intend to make that mistake again.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Well, we don’t have much for winter wrath in Puget Sound but up until a couple of years ago my prep included making sure the winter beater had good tires, change out the wiper blades (bit issue in Puget Sound), load test battery, check coolant (replace if needed), make sure I had the mountain pass survival items in the back, check the tire chains for any possible damage, MAYBE practice putting them on, and finding the window scraper buried in the garage.

  • avatar
    Mike-NB

    Like Matthew, I’m an Eastern Canadian too (one province to the left) so winter prep is essential.

    The most essential ingredient is the best winter tires that you can afford. It’s been my experience that winter tires require more thought than whatever you run the rest of the year. Unless you drive a high-performance car and want the best dry-pavement performance you can get then any tire is a balance of compromises.

    All tires rated for winter will have a rubber compound for cold temperatures so that leaves the buyer balancing any compromises about winter weather. But then again, this also depends on where you live since there may not be any compromises.

    Where I live is right on a large bay as part of the Atlantic so the guess work is snow versus freezing rain. My experience is that most tires are better in one rather than the other. A couple of years ago I drove to work in freezing rain with Blizzaks on the car and wondered why all the idiots were driving like it was a parade. I stepped out of my car at work and fell on my ass it was so slippery. The Blizzaks were so amazing on ice that I didn’t notice the road conditions. Those same tires weren’t great in deep snow.

    Every time I have to buy new tires I slog through reviews to see what’s best. I had to buy new tires last fall but a change in circumstances backed me into a bit of a corner. I was taking delivery of a ’17 MKZ with the 3.0L and the dealer ordered rims from an Escape that would fit. The dealer later learned that the 3.0L car has bigger brakes than the 2.0L model and that no one was yet making winter wheels for the 3.0L. That meant I was stuck with the same rims and buying 19” tires. Luckily Michelin makes an X-Ice in that size. I’ve used X-Ice in the past and liked them.

    The other thing I do, which has been mentioned as well, is use full synthetic oil. The best demonstration of the value of synthetic is when I bought a new snowblower a couple of years ago. After the five-hour break-in period I switched to full synthetic. With my old snowblower, with regular dino juice in it, I couldn’t use the pull start at really cold temperatures. With synthetic that isn’t an issue.

    The other thing I do is to strip the wax off the car and start over putting at least two coats of a good wax on it. We have a lot of salt in the air here and put tons of it on the roads too.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    ” Besides, waiting until the first storm of the year ensures an interminable wait for service at Canadian Tire as the entire town all shows up at the same time.”

    Wait – these tires are already mounted on rims…why do you need to take it to Canadian Tire? What happened to your Motomaster jack?

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    I ride a Honda Grom in the winter here, so I swap on my studded tires. They work great as long as the snow doesn’t get more than a couple of inches deep. Once it gets packed down or turns to ice, the studs dig right in.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Generally I’ll clean the cars and wax them a final time before it gets too cold out. In November or December I take the factory alloys off and replace them with the steel rims with winter tires.

    I’m still running a set of Altimax Arctic on my car since they’ve got one more season before I turn it in to VW. Just bought a new set of Pirelli Winter Cinturatos for the wife’s car. I do have a garage and a propane heater to use if winter maintenance is necessary, but I try to do oil changes when it’s still warm enough out that my fingers work.

    When I swap the tires, I undercoat what I can reach with Rust Check in a HVLP spray gun.

    I also stock up on Walmart’s purple de-icer washer fluid so I’m set for the winter.

  • avatar
    brn

    Toss a scraper/brush in the back seat and small shovel in the trunk.

    More importantly, change the battery in my keyfob to ensure remote start will work at maximum distance. When the temp drops to where Fahrenheit equals Celsius, I need it.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    0W-20, shovel, brush, Rust Check, winter front, extension cord, driving gloves, and studded winter tires.

  • avatar
    mchan1

    Gotta love winter time and driving /S

    1. Top of fluids
    2. Check tire pressure regularly
    3. Don’t commute much so all-season tires are good enough.
    – Will be getting all 4 new all-season tires soon by Dec
    – Good enough even in New England like lower NH/MA areas
    4. 2 ice scrapers in car
    5. Front windshield cover which makes clearing snow easier
    6. Get winter wiper blades, if not sold out in local areas already
    7. Thank goodness the car has an auto engine starter
    8. Thank goodness the car has heated seats and heated steering wheel
    9. Use colorized windshield washer fluid for extreme <32F temps even though it may not help much as it still freezes when used
    10. Check battery
    11. Watch out for crazy drivers who's really Stupid by speeding in the snow as you know there are people like that anywhere and everywhere regardless of where one lives!
    12. Don't drive much when it's snowing unless to move your vehicle to plow your driveway
    13. Keep some kitty litter or sand in the trunk of your car
    14. Keep a shovel on the backseat floor or trunk
    15. Keep spare clothes/blankets in the trunk
    16. May consider snow tires though never used one in many years ****knocksonwood***flingslotsofsaltoverbothshoulders****
    17. Stay inside in warm clothing and turn on portable heaters (gas heat is expensive in Old houses/apartments!) and warm cup of something and binge watch something

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Chicago here. Our winters seem to be getting warmer and warmer. Last year I didn’t even bother with the snow tires and turned out correct. I guess that’s one upside of Chinese manufacturing?

    This year I’m going to wax the car and that’s about it, and that’s more for UV protection. Maybe put a snow brush in the back for those few days where there’s snow and ice.

  • avatar
    squib308

    I drive an AWD car, which helps, but out in the sticks and on unplowed roads, you can still get into trouble. I keep warm gloves, a fleece pullover, a waterproof jacket to go over it, waterproof warm boots, a tow strap, an avalanche shovel, a few MRE’s, emergency blanket, and misc cold weather gear. It all lives in a small duffle bag in the trunk.

    Insulated gloves _in the glove compartment_ (!) if the car is really cold before it warms up.

    Obviously an ice scraper and snow brush.

    As far as mechanicals go, some sort of windshield wiper fluid that doesn’t freeze until -40 degrees, keep it topped up. Check coolant is good in cold temps.

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