Throughout most of the year, Bay Area residents enjoy exceptionally pleasant weather, exemplified by mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine. The problem is, in this characteristically comfy climate, it’s easy to forget about preparing for when the weather isn’t so nice. Take winter road safety, which many Northern California drivers neglect to prepare for due to the relatively brief rainy season. However, with the slick roads and diminished visibility winter weather often brings, it’s necessary to address this crucial concern. To help you do this, we’ve created the following checklist of areas to assess on your vehicle.
While snowy streets aren’t an issue in the Bay Area, the heavy showers of winter (and spring, for that matter) can make the roads slicker than usual. That’s why it’s important to verify your car tires are in suitable shape for wet weather driving. First, make sure they have a sufficient amount of tread. This is easy to do, as most modern tires come with built-in wear bars. Just take a look—if the wear bars are flush with the tread, you know it’s time to change the tires. Proper tire pressure is also important for winter road safety, so check your tires’ pressure regularly and replenish the air as needed.
Windshield wiper blades
Like other Bay Area drivers, you probably don’t use your windshield wiper blades much from May to December—in fact, by mid-fall, you may have forgotten about them entirely. However, you don’t want to wait until the rain starts falling to find out they’re not functioning properly. That’s why it’s a good practice to replace your wiper blades every year just before winter. If your blades are still in good working condition, a mere cleaning may suffice—simply use a rag to wipe the blade’s edge.
With the shorter days winter brings, it’s important to ensure your car’s headlights provide sufficient nighttime visibility. Over time, sunlight causes plastic headlight covers to oxidize, which creates a layer of glaze that obscures the shine of the bulbs. To amend this, bring your car to an automotive professional to have your headlights de-glazed. After sanding off the oxidized layer, the technician should apply a UV clear coat protectant so your headlights won’t re-oxidize as quickly.
Frosty windshields are a common winter nuisance, but for Bay Area drivers, a much bigger issue is when windshields fog up. That’s why it’s crucial to test your defogger prior to winter—after all, you don’t want to discover it isn’t working while you’re driving on the freeway. Keep in mind that your front and rear windshields have separate defogging systems, so even if one works, the other may not.
Besides having a functional windshield defogger, it’s helpful to know the most effective way to use it. Believe it or not, this involves combining your car’s heating and air conditioning functions. While the heater combats condensation by warming up the windshield, the air conditioner helps by simultaneously dehumidifying the air inside the vehicle. To make the most of this method, turn your heater on full blast at its hottest setting and make sure your recirculation button is turned off—otherwise, that humid air will stay trapped inside.