Winter is coming, which means now’s as good a time as ever to prepare your car for the cold. Brace your BMW for ice, snow and freezing temperatures with these eight tips.
Odds are you’ll feel a lot more confident when you face tough driving conditions. Plus, your vehicle will hold up much better, no matter what kind of weather it faces.
1. Test Your Battery
Reduced capacity and increased draw from accessories and start motors can cause your battery to die during the colder months. Testing it throughout the winter will minimize your chances of hearing that fateful clicking sound the next time you turn your key in the ignition. Check the connections for any corrosion and test the battery load to determine its capacity. A weak battery will begin to freeze at just 32°F while a fully charged one won’t freeze until -76°F.
2. Get an Oil Change
Odds are your Bimmer will work just fine if you don’t follow the three month/3,000 mile rule to schedule oil changes. However, frigid temperatures can cause your Bimmer’s oil to flow slowly or not at all, which can put a lot of stress on the engine. Eventually, the motor will start to protest and you may have some more costly repairs on your hands. Therefore, it’s best to schedule an oil change before winter arrives and schedule more frequent changes throughout the colder months.
3. Check the Tires
How well your tires will hold up against ice, sleet and snow depends on a number of factors, one being tread depth. If the tread is shallow, the tires won’t have much traction and you’ll have to replace them. Consider throwing on a set of winter tires, which are made with deep tread patterns and sipes to provide better traction. Low tire pressure can also decrease traction and cause accidents. Use an air pump to maintain a higher PSI throughout the winter.
4. Inspect the Brakes
Harsh road conditions can cause rust, overheat your breaks and wear out their lines. When you’re facing everything from sludge to black ice, the last thing you want is for your brakes to go out. Therefore, it’s important to inspect this vital component before freezing temperatures arrive. Corrosion, loud squealing noises and worn brake pads often mean they need replacing. However, a mechanic will be able to diagnose any issues and offer advice if you’re unable to inspect the brakes yourself.
5. Make an Emergency Kit
A winter roadside breakdown can leave you stranded for hours in frigid conditions. If you aren’t prepared, you could get frostbite, starve or freeze to death. Keeping an emergency kit can increase your chance of survival by keeping you safe and warm until help arrives. Pack essentials like jumper cables, candles, blankets, food and water. An extra phone charger, flashlight, lighter and first-aid kit can also come in handy if you ever get stuck in the snow.
6. Use Winter-Specific Fluids
Excess moisture and precipitation can degrade your BMW’s fluids or even cause them to freeze. Luckily, automakers have created a line of winter-specific fluid formulas to prevent these mishaps. Replace your brake and windshield wiper fluids with these blends before winter arrives Top off the coolant and antifreeze while you’re at it, too. That way you don’t have to stand out there in the cold with your hood open later on.
7. Get New Wiper Blades
Some gearheads recommend changing your wiper blades every six to 12 months. However, if you frequently drive in tough conditions, you may want to replace them sooner. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with streaks and squeaks all winter long. Swap worn blades for winter ones that are sturdier and more resilient. These kinds of blades also have Teflon-coated edges to improve snow and ice clearing.
8. Fuel Up
When there’s a lot of empty space in your gas tank, condensation can form on the inside. This moisture will dilute your fuel put extra strain on your BMW’s pumps and pistons. If the water freezes, damages can be much more substantial. Therefore, it’s crucial that you fill up your tank before the first cold blast hits. Then, keep it at least half full throughout the colder months to keep internal moisture levels low.
Enjoy the Ride
Once you’ve prepared your BMW for the cold, all that’s left to do is enjoy the ride. Hit the road and explore backcountry trails. Even in the dead of winter, you can drive worry-free knowing that both you and your car are well-equipped for the adventure.