Help Motorists Prepare Vehicles for Winter Driving

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While last year’s brutal winter may seem like a distant memory, severe weather is once again on its way. The last thing any driver needs is to break down along the road in the bitter cold. Plus, with the year coming to an end, more drivers will be packing their cars and heading home for the holidays. Now is the time to make sure your customers’ vehicles are ready for the rough weather conditions ahead.

“With the change in the seasons comes more service opportunities for fast lube operators and automotive shops, especially for oil changes and related maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Checking your customers’ vehicles now before severe winter weather arrives could help them avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles from home. It also gives them the chance to have any service repairs made before they leave on their journey.” 

To help your customers make it over the river and through the woods in winter weather, encourage them to have their vehicles inspected to make sure they’re road ready. A pre-winter checklist should include the following:

·  Check the battery and charging system for optimum performance.

·  Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system.

·  Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Suggest winter wiper blades and using cold weather washer fluid. Remind customers that, as a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

·  Make sure exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.

·  Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, suggest special tires designed to grip slick roads. Also, remind customers that during winter, they should check their tire pressure regularly.

·  Change the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Also, check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

If your customer is due for a tune-up, recommend that it’s done before winter sets in. Extreme cold weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. Suggest to them that the brakes be checked, as the braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item, and to have the exhaust system inspected for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed. 

It’s also important to remind your customers that they should keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. They should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication. 

The Car Care Council’s 80-page Car Care Guide is a valuable tool to use when discussing recommended maintenance and repairs with customers. It’s also a great giveaway for your customers to keep in their glove box. The digital version of the guide can be shared by using this link: Printed copies can be easily ordered by visiting the Car Care Council’s website. Custom printing with a company logo on the back cover is available in bulk quantities.

The Car Care Council’s website at is another good resource for information to help your customers prepare their vehicles for harsh driving conditions. Winter-related articles including Six Quick Tips for Sub-Zero Driving and Winter Car Care, plus infographics and the Winterizing Your Vehicle car care minute video can be shared via email, website and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“While it’s easy to remember to get the family ready for the holiday festivities, don’t let your customers forget about preparing the car that’s going to get them there,” White said. “Taking preventive maintenance steps now while the weather is mild will give your customers peace of mind and help make their journey safer when temperatures drop.”  


RICH WHITE is the executive director of the Car Care Council and the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign. He can be contacted at:


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