Your vehicle requires special care during the winter months to provide optimal performance. As the weather grows colder, follow these six tips for maintaining your Kia and keeping it in tip-top shape.
1. Test the Battery
According to Consumer Reports, exposure to cold reduces your battery’s ability to start the engine. That means if your battery is already weak, it could fail completely when winter rolls around, leaving you stranded. Most car batteries last about five years. If your car battery is aging, or showing signs of failure such as difficulty when starting the engine, you should consider replacing it before the weather gets cold. If you’re not sure, ask your mechanic to perform a voltage test which can estimate the battery’s predicted lifespan.
2. See the Light
When it gets dark earlier and when weather is poor, visibility declines. Make sure you’re seeing to the best of your ability behind the wheel by replacing any dim or burnt-out bulbs. Clear dirt, grime, and snow off your headlight covers before hitting the road. If these are foggy, consider having them professionally cleaned or restored.
3. Replace Windshield Wiper Blades
Snow and ice do a serious number on your wiper blades. Swapping them out is an inexpensive fix that anyone can do at home. Before a storm, flip the windshield wipers up so they won’t get frozen to the glass. Frequently refill your windshield cleaning fluid and carry an ice scraper in the car so you’ll always have clear visibility. Wiper blades typically last up to a year, but can become less effective in as little as six months.
4. Evaluate Your Tires
If you don’t already use winter tires, you might want to consider making the switch this year. These tires are made from rubber compounds that improve your traction on slippery roads and improve braking performance by as much as 40 percent according to Autobytel. If you plan to stick with the tires you have, check to make sure you have enough tread with the old penny trick. Insert the penny into your tread head first; if you can no longer see Honest Abe’s face, it’s time for new tires. Even if the tread looks good, check tire pressure regularly before you head out on the road. Tires lose pressure much more quickly during winter months, and driving on tires that are too low can lead to a dangerous blowout.
5. Check the Exhaust
Leaking exhaust is a dangerous hazard when you’re in your car with the windows down. Avoid this issue by having the exhaust system inspected for leaks. Your mechanic should also check for small holes in the trunk or floorboard that could let harmful fumes into the cabin.
6. Carry an Emergency Kit
If you do get stranded in the winter, an emergency kit will be your best friend. Assemble one that includes extra warm clothes, a wool blanket, road flares, a small shovel and sand or kitty litter, a flashlight and extra batteries, high-energy snacks, bottled water, and an extra cell-phone charger.