Tips for getting your car ready for winter

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The winter season has arrived, and although snow hasn’t fallen from the skies yet, we all need to make the necessary preparations to get our cars ready for the winter road conditions.

Joining us Sunday on Good Morning Connecticut, car expert and general sales manager at New County BMW Lou Joseph, shares helpful tips to get your car winter ready..

Click on the video above to watch the live interview with News 8’s Sam Kantrow. Below is information discussed on the show, plus more:

Where should we start to get our cars ready for winter?

  • Stop by the dealership for a complete inspection of the battery, antifreeze level, thermostat, heater, brakes and defroster.
  • Make sure your vehicle’s front and rear lights are operational, especially the car’s flashing hazard lights.
  • Examine your car’s paint and undercarriage. Road salt commonly used during winter can further erode rusted or damaged areas.
  • Even if windshield wipers are working properly, purchase winter wiper blades to cut through snow and ice instead of using regular ones throughout the year.
  • Exchange regular windshield wiper fluid with one made especially to spray in freezing conditions.

Now what about snow tires? Do we really need them?

  • That’s a question we are asked most often.
  • Many people incorrectly assume that All-Season tires are designed to handle all types of weather.
  • All-Season tires are a compromise that provide acceptable performance under a variety of conditions, but are less effective in winter’s freezing temperatures, and in snow or ice.
  • People also assume that all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, ABS brakes and traction control will keep them safe. They are certainly advantages, but none of them will improve tire traction.
  • Snow tires have treads that provide better traction and are equipped to handle extreme winter driving conditions.
  • Tire manufacturers recommend four snow tires instead of just two to avoid inconsistent handling.

How can we tell if our tires are still good?

  • Tires become worn in a variety of ways and need to be inspected frequently.
  • When your mechanic can also determine if your tires have been recalled.
  • Many drivers may have faulty tires and not even realize it because there is no consistent notification process in place.
  • Make sure the tires have the correct air pressure to prevent slipping and sliding.
  • Always use the tire pressure printed on the vehicle’s door frame or in the owner’s manual, not the maximum pressure printed on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Check the tread. The tread depth should never fall below 1/16 of an inch (1.6 millimeters). If you regularly drive on slick, wet surfaces, you need twice that much.

You can buy a gauge to measure the tread depth the way the professionals do, or simply use a Lincoln-head penny.

  • Insert Abe’s head (head-down) into the tread. If Lincoln’s entire head remains visible, you don’t have enough tread and they need to be replaced.
  • Look to see if tread wear indicator bars built into the tires are visible.
  • These bars can barely been seen when the tires are new, then gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down.
  • Check for tracks or cuts in the sidewalls. This could be a sign that your tire is developing a leak. A bulge or blister that extends outward is a weakened area that may be nearly ready to blow out.

Peters also tells us about the Stuff a MINI winter clothing drive:

  • This is the second annual “Stuff the MINI to the Max” warm winter clothing campaign to benefit Hartford students.
  • They use the “Stuff a MINI” program to collect school supplies in August and winter gear in December.
  • Last year we donated more than 200 coats and accessories.
  • Each time we deliver supplies we see the need firsthand and have gotten to know the Director, Marta and the children.
  • Approximately 21,000 students were enrolled in Hartford Public Schools in 2013-14, of whom 84.6% were low-income.
  • The campaign runs from now through December 21st.

What items are at the top of the list?

  • New and gently used coats, mittens, boots and hats for children ranging from pre-K through high school.
  • New or gently used blankets.
  • We particularly need clothing to fit the older children.
  • We just ask that any used items be freshly washed.

Where can we drop off donations for the Stuff a MINI campaign?

  • Stop by the dealership at 236 Reverend Moody Overpass in Hartford with clothing, blankets or monetary donations through December 21st.
  • We’ll be at Somserset Square Shoppes on Dec. 12th/13th and in West Hartford Center on Dec. 19th/20th collecting coats and winter accessories.
  • We will then deliver everything to the Hartford School Welcome Center to be distributed to the children.

For more information, visit

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