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Prepping your car for winter weather: Tire tread depth, and more

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 8:21 AM MDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2021 at 9:57 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - With snow possible in the forecast for later this week, service technicians say now is the time to prep your cars for winter.

There are a few key items experts say drivers often forget to check before hitting the road in winter weather.

“We have a lot of people coming from out of the area and different locations,” said Travis Rodefer, a Phil Long dealerships service technician. Rodefer explained for folks unfamiliar with how Colorado winters impact vehicles, now is a good time to learn.

Antifreeze is the first example of this. “Your antifreeze protects the vehicle and the engine block from freezing. It keeps it at operating temperatures,” Rodefer said. “It’s not as important if you’re in the south or somewhere in the 70s ... but here in Colorado, you want to make sure you have the correct antifreeze levels and that it’s not contaminated.”

Next, tires. “Tire tread depth is a key thing. The worn-down tread factor is going to reduce your stopping distance and can cause hydroplaning ... Ice is ice, we all know that, but the better the tread, the better you’re going to be,” Rodefer said. Experts advise taking a quarter upside down and placing it in the grooves on your tires. If the tire hits at or above Washington’s head, the tires have enough tread. If the tire hits below Washington’s head, its time to replace your tires. (demonstration pictured below.)

This image shows an easy check drivers can do at home on their tires to ensure they have enough...
This image shows an easy check drivers can do at home on their tires to ensure they have enough tread depth. Notice the height of the tire is above Washington's head. If the tire height is below Washinton's head, the tires should be replaced.(KKTV)

Check your battery. “The winter months put a strain on your battery, especially if the vehicle is kept outside,” Rodefer said. He advises starting to think about replacing batteries around 5 years old, saying, “Five years you are sort of cutting it close, so keep an eye on your battery making sure your vehicle is starting properly.”

Also check wiper blades. “When you can’t see, you can’t drive ... We don’t get a lot of rain here, so people don’t really check their wiper blades until it does rain, and then all of a sudden it’s streaking, the blades have been dry rotted, and they fly off and cause other damage ... so just do periodic maintenance of your wiper blades, making sure they’re ready for the snow.”

Experts say to always make sure jumper cables are in the car.

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