How to Prepare Your Car for Cold Weather

The holiday season can be time-consuming and stressful. Consequently, for most people, essential tasks like car maintenance end up on the back burner. But winter weather seriously increases the risk of weather-related accidents, making it imperative for drivers to prepare for adverse road conditions. Here are a few car care tips from Michelin OnSite that can help drivers prepare.

Make sure vital parts are working properly. Cold weather can damage your car battery and other critical system components. Have your car’s battery and charging system checked before cold weather sets in. While this is happening, make sure your heaters, windshield wipers and defrosters are working to ensure safety and visibility. Take advantage of special winter windshield wipers and fluid, which are less likely to freeze in cold weather.

Replace your tires before winter sets in. To prevent accidents during cold temperatures, it is especially important to make sure your tires are in good shape. The accident rate for worn-out tires is 26 percent, compared to just 2.4 percent when tires are near full tread depth. Pressed for time due to holiday shopping and other busy activities? Michelin OnSite can come to your home or office to replace your tires while you go about your busy day.

Check your tire pressure. Tires lose pressure as the temperature drops. For example, if a tire has a pressure of 29 pounds per square inch at 62 degrees, the pressure may be only 26 psi at 32 degrees.  Michelin recommends drivers check their tire pressure once a month to prevent accidents. Vehicles driving on tires underinflated by more than 25 percent are three times more likely to be involved in a tire-related crash than vehicles with proper inflation.

Know how to check your pressure properly. Only adjust pressure when tires are cold – i.e., either stationary for at least three hours or most recently driven less than 1 mile. You can purchase a tire pressure gauge to check your pressure from home, or stop by a local tire center or gas station that provides the service.

Repair any windshield damage. A small crack on the windshield may, in the extreme cold, become a large crack. Be sure to repair it before winter sets in.

Keep your gas tank filled. If your gas tank is less than half full, condensation can form and freeze in your fuel lines, making it difficult to start your car. Keeping your tank over half full also helps to keep your fuel pump working properly.

Drive Safely. Cautious driving is crucial for your safety in winter weather conditions. While turning, maintain a slow and regular speed. If you accelerate suddenly, your tires could lose traction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers increase their following distance significantly when driving on wet or icy roads. To be safe, keep an emergency kit with a blanket, bottled water, etc., in your car at all times.

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About Michelin OnSite

Available exclusively in the Triangle, Michelin OnSite is a mobile tire service that comes to you. From helping you choose the right tires to installing them wherever and whenever you choose, Michelin OnSite works to make sure your tires are ready for the toughest winter conditions. Tires can be purchased online through www.michelinonsite.com, and representatives are standing by to help guide the selection process either via live chat or by calling 1-866-420-8846.

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Cold weather can damage your car battery and other critical system components.[i]

The accident rate for worn-out tires is 26 percent, compared to just 2.4 percent when tires are near full tread depth.[ii]

Tires lose pressure as the temperature drops. For example, if a tire has a pressure of 29 pounds per square inch at 62 degrees, the pressure may be only 26 psi at 32 degrees.[iii]

Vehicles driving on tires underinflated by more than 25 percent are three times more likely to be involved in a tire-related crash than vehicles with proper inflation.[iv]

Only adjust pressure when tires are cold – i.e., either stationary for at least three hours or most recently driven less than 1 mile.[v]

A small crack on the windshield may, in the extreme cold, become a large crack.[vi] Be sure to repair it before winter sets in.

Keeping your tank over half full also helps to keep your fuel pump working properly.[vii]

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that drivers increase their following distance significantly when driving on wet or icy roads.[viii]


[i] Car Care Council. (n.d.). 9 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter Weather. Retrieved from http://www.carcare.org/2013/09/9-ways-to-prepare-your-car-for-winter-weather/

[ii] Choi, E-H. (2012, April). Tire-Related Factors in the Pre-Crash Phase. (Report No. DOT HS 811617). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

[iv] Choi, E-H. (2012, April). Tire-Related Factors in the Pre-Crash Phase. (Report No. DOT HS 811617). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

[v] Michelin. (n.d.). Winter Weather Guide. Retrieved from http://www.michelinman.com/US/en/safe-driving/winter-guide.html

[vi] Michelin. (n.d.). Winter Weather Guide. Retrieved from http://www.michelinman.com/US/en/safe-driving/winter-guide.html

[vii] Osceola Garage. (2015). Why Keep Your Fuel Tank Full. Retrieved from http://www.osceolagarage.com/why-keep-your-fuel-tank-full/

[viii] Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Safe Winter Driving. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/Publications/SafeDriving.pdf