Winter Car Check Up – 5 Tips for Winter Road Trips

We visit the doctor for an annual check-up, we should do the same with our cars. The doctor checks weight, blood pressure, pulse, vaccine updates, especially when cough and cold season approaches. Essentially there’s an inspection of the body – and then she makes recommendations on steps to improve any deficiencies or problem areas. The same should apply to the cars we drive. A yearly check-up is important for safe winter driving, especially for those that live in the northern states. Some prefer to stay in the warm house, but for others, winter is a big travel season. There are college homecomings, holidays, family visits, and more. These winter road trips should be planned with even more care than summer jaunts, because getting stuck in the snow and cold can be much harder to endure. So, bring your car into an automotive doctor before the cold weather arrives and make sure that you’ll be safe as you embark upon your winter driving trips. This checkover should be more than just a look under the hood while getting an oil change. The winter check should access all systems of the car – especially those that will be more affected by the cold weather. For example, a battery may not work as well in the cold and could leave you stranded and waiting for a tow truck. Coolant is needed to protect an engine from freezing when the temperature falls below zero.

Winter Driving Checklist

  • The defrost should be in working order. Having good visibility out of all your windows will help prevent accidents with cars and obstructions on the road.
  • All lights around the outside of the car should work. Remember it gets dark sooner in the winter time. Lights will help you see what is ahead and will help other drivers to know where you are.
  • The heater should work on all speeds and reach a temperature that will keep you warm when the temperature gets very cold.
  • Tires should have sufficient tread to grip the road when the snow falls or if the conditions become icy.
  • Wipers should clean the windows without streaking or leaving spots that will hinder visibility. Remember to check for proper windshield washer functioning, so you may clean the windows easily when “road spit” sprays onto your windshield.

Most shops will perform these check-ups for a small fee, or as a courtesy, with the expectation that there is a chance to complete the work needed. A thorough winter car check up may take up to an hour to an hour and a half, and may be added to routine maintenance such as oil changes, rotations and snow tire change overs.

What Should You Expect After the Inspection?

What you should receive a checklist of the good and bad items within each of the major systems of the car. Along with the checklist you’ll receive an estimate for the cost of repairs. Be sure to understand the line items; complaints you have about the car, safety issues, performance issues, preventive maintenance, and lastly, any cosmetic issues. Do not be surprised if the shop hands you a lengthy estimate on an older car. It’s an indication of a job well done, as long as they can help you prioritize needs. Remember that repairs recommended in the summer might have become more urgent as the months have passed.

Who Can Perform This Service

Most automotive service professionals can perform a winter driving inspection. However, you value your car and want it serviced by qualified professionals, without getting financially taken advantage of. If you’re ready to bring your car in for an inspection, try Openbay to find the right mechanic for you.

Join Openbay+

Save upwards of 25% on
car repair and maintenance services with Openbay+


Openbay Staff