As a skier or snowboarder, you probably already know how to prep your gear for the upcoming season. You know about prepping your body, too.
But there’s a third prepping that’s often overlooked — getting your ride ready for cold and snow. If your vehicle fails on your way to the mountains, all that sharpening, all that waxing, all those squats, will be for squat. Here’s how to ready that ride …
1. Check your tires.
Down to the last 16th inch of treads? Get new tires before snow falls. And get good ones. This isn’t something you should skimp on — the consequences of a wrong choice are just too high.
Depending on how much snow falls where you ski, either buy winter tires or good all-seasons. How do you know they’re good? Look for the M+S on the sidewall — it stands for mud and snow.
2. Get a tune-up.
If your oil is old and gluggy, change it. Wiper blades smearing rain? They’ll be worse in snow. Heater not working? Duh. And if you’re using the same tires as last season, have the pressure checked on all five of them. (Yes, including the spare.)
Top up the antifreeze, and while you’re at it, fill the windshield washer reservoir with antifreeze-protected fluid, not water. (H2O might be fine in August; watching your windshield go opaque in January — not so much.)
Check your headlights (low and high beams), brake lights, taillights, turn signals, the works. And ensure your headlight lenses aren’t fogged or corroded. — you need full brightness in darkest December.
Unless you’re driving a car from the Nixon era, don’t worry about changing your oil. Contemporary engines run on low-viscosity oil, either synthetic or conventional. No need for seasonal change.
3. Get chains.
If you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, Quebec or Maine, you probably don’t need them.
If you’re in California, you do. Unless you’re driving a properly tired four-wheel- or all-wheel-drive vehicle, you have to carry chains. If you don’t, and snow is piling up, they won’t let you on the Interstate.
Get them before your first trip to the mountains; don’t wish you had them in the middle of the trip. And, for sure, before you need them, be certain they fit. You don’t want to discover in a snowstorm at midnight that the chains you borrowed fit your friend’s Honda, not your Toyota.
4. Stock your trunk up with winter essentials.
Along with the spare and jack, it should contain warm blankets, plenty of drinking water, candles, matches, nutrition bars and tools, including hammer and screwdrivers, flares and a knife.
5. Adjust your driving.
Finally, prep your own winter driving skills. Most snow-country car accidents are caused by …Anyone? Anyone? By driving too fast. Don’t be that guy driving recklessly up the hill!