Winter in Pittsburgh can be brutal on vehicles. Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your engine and battery, while icy and snowy roads are dangerous hazards for even the most experienced drivers. Make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for wintry conditions.

Here are eight things you can do to get your vehicle ready for winter in western Pennsylvania:

  1. Change your wiper blades: Make sure your wiper blades are ready to handle the snow, ice, mud, and salt bound to find its way onto your windshield. If your wipers are leaving streaks, replace them.
  2. Get snow tires: Even if you have all-season tires, consider switching them for snow tires during the winter. Snow tires have better traction for driving in the snow, making them safer in slushy conditions.
  3. Check your battery: Colder temperatures are hard on batteries, so make sure yours has enough juice to get through the winter. Most auto parts or repair shops will test your battery for you. Replace it if necessary.
  4. Check belts and hoses: Low temperatures are also hard on the belts and hoses in your engine, making them more prone to breaking. Inspect them for cracks and other signs of wear. Replace them if necessary.
  5. Check fluid levels: Make sure your antifreeze mixture is in the right proportion to keep the engine’s cooling system from freezing.
  6. Change your oil: Check your vehicle’s owner manual for the best oil viscosity for your car in the wintertime. Using thinner oil during the winter can keep it from thickening when the temperatures drop.
  7. Stock your car with essential tools: Always carry these tools in your vehicle during the winter to help you get going again if you break down or get stuck:
    • Jumper cables
    • Small shovel to dig out tires
    • Kitty litter, road salt, or sand for traction
    • Tow chain
    • Ice scraper
  8. Put together a winter survival kit: If despite your best efforts you become stranded in your vehicle, make sure you have these supplies to hold you over until help arrives:
    • Cell phone to call for help (with charger that works in your car)
    • Battery-powered radio
    • Blankets and warm clothes
    • Water
    • Nonperishable food
    • Extra medications
    • First aid kit
    • Road flares
    • Flashlight
    • Extra batteries

You may also take your vehicle into a local auto shop for a full inspection to identify any issues that might give you problems in the colder temperatures. Better to catch them now before they become larger, more expensive problems later.

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