It’s tough to think about, but as summer draws to a close, the cold and wet of winter is fast approaching. Drivers who prep for the elements in advance will fare best and hopefully have a safe and smooth season of motoring. In this blog post, we cover everything from slapping a coat of wax on your vehicle to protect the paint, to checking the health of windshield wipers to ensure clear vision of the road ahead.

Apply car wax

You might be asking yourself, “Why do I need to wax my car if I wash it regularly?” Well, the practice comes with numerous benefits. By applying the compound — often made from natural sources like the leaves of the carnauba plant — to the bodywork, an invisible water-repellant barrier is put in place between the shiny clearcoat and road spray, muddy slush, salt and all the other unpleasantness of the frigid months. Some carnauba cleaner waxes have built-in light polishing agents to help remove stuck on tar and other minor blemishes at the same time.

Install winter tires

Whether snow is in the forecast or not, summer and all-season tires don’t do so well when the mercury dips. The latter loses functionality in temperatures below 45 degrees, where the rubber compound hardens and thus no longer provides adequate traction. Winter tires, identified by a three-peak mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall, are specially formulated to stay supple even in inclement weather, and feature tread patterns designed to bite into the driving surface for extra grip in slippery conditions.

Test lighting

Ensure all the lights on the vehicle are working properly so that you can see others when it’s dark and stormy out, and more importantly, to ensure others can see you. Test the bulbs in the head, tail and parking lamps, as well as those in the turn signal housings because they also serve as hazard lights during emergencies.

Inspect windshield wipers

No matter how well the car is prepared for winter, it will all have been for naught if you can’t see through a dirty windshield. A summertime’s worth of harsh UV rays can break down the rubber even in a newish set of wipers, so give them a few wipes after a wash to see if water is cleared away uniformly without any streaking. If not, visit a local auto parts store and pick up a new model-specific set — removal and installation is easy and only takes a few minutes. Depending on use, blades should be replaced once to twice a year.

Top up fluids

While you’re tending to the wipers, peek under the hood at the windshield washer fluid tank. Fill as necessary. If capable, check the level of the radiator coolant too, which prevents water in the engine from boiling over in the summer and freezing in the winter. Or, have a professional take a look.

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