Now is the time to prepare a car for winter

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published October 26, 2015

 A car battery 4 years or older should be checked by a mechanic who can do a test of the charging system.

A car battery 4 years or older should be checked by a mechanic who can do a test of the charging system.

Shutterstock image


Talk of Indian summer and El Niño to the contrary, the arctic air of winter is bound to make an appearance in Michigan soon. And for drivers, that should mean being ready to prepare for the challenges that cold temperatures and snow may bring to a vehicle.

Gary Bubar, AAA Michigan public affairs specialist, said now is the best time to check on everything in the car, before the weather gets cold.

“Being that the weather has been so warm, this has been one of the warmest Septembers since we’ve been keeping records,” he said. “People aren’t really thinking about the cold weather that is coming up on us quickly.”

Bubar said a car battery in Michigan will last on average about four to five years, so any batteries that have lasted that long should be replaced or at least checked by a mechanic who can do a test of the charging system.

“The No. 1 cause for someone to call AAA for road service is that (the vehicle) won’t start, and usually that has to do with a battery,” he said.

According to Al Laity, service director at Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge, winter preparedness should include keeping an eye on the coolant.

“It could cause damage to the engine if it’s not at the proper level,” Laity said. “It could cause the engine to freeze.”

Laity said winter-ready cars should also have the belts and hoses checked, and drivers should inspect their tires to make sure the tread quality is not overworn. Otherwise, “you’ll be slip-sliding all over the place,” he said. 

But Laity estimated that a good portion of vehicles overall are already ready for the season, and any remaining issues could be checked whenever a car needs an oil change.

Besides regular maintenance, drivers are also advised to keep some supplies handy during the winter months. 

Laity recommended taking along a snowbrush and ice scraper. Bubar said while it’s better to call road service than to attempt auto repairs in cold weather, a prepared vehicle should store away a cellphone, a road service card, a flashlight, jumper cables, gloves and reflective triangles — the last of which he recommended as less dangerous than flares.

“For the most part, a lot of it is some common-sense kinds of things that you would keep in your car anyway,” he said.

Learn more about Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Rochester Hills by visiting or by calling (248) 652-9650. Learn more about AAA Michigan by visiting