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How to Prepare Your Mustang for Winter Driving

Driving in Cold Weather Requires Extra Care, Extra Time, & Advanced Preparation

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It's never good to break down, but breaking down in the middle of winter is even more unpleasant. The following are steps you can take to prepare your Mustang for cold-weather driving. As a word of caution, the Mustang is not the best of vehicles to use on snow-covered roads. If you have an alternative, use it. If forced to drive in such conditions, use EXTREME caution. Having survived three winters of driving a Mustang in New Jersey, I recommend you go easy on the accelerator, go easy on the brakes, and watch out for the infamous rear-wheel spin outs. Better yet, find a friend with a four-wheel drive vehicle!

Evaluate Your Tires

Let's start with your tires. These four pieces of rubber are what keep your Mustang connected to the road. In winter, road conditions can be harsh. Sand, salt, snow, and ice can all wreak havoc on a standard set of tires. Therefore, you should invest in a set of snow tires if you drive in an area with these conditions. Snow tires are designed to increase traction and improve your ability to drive in winter conditions. Many Mustang owners have good things to say about Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires. Other good brands exist as well, so do your research. Fortunately, most all-season radial tires are sufficient for winter driving in areas that get little or no snow. Just be sure to check your tire pressure regularly. Keep them inflated!

Inspect Your Battery

If you don't have a battery, you won't have to worry about those tires we just discussed. Nothing's worse than a car that won't start on a cold winter day. Therefore, you need to make sure your battery is in good condition before winter comes. Inspect it yourself, or have it inspected by a mechanic. And make sure the cable connectors are in good shape. Most batteries have a lifespan of about 3 1/2 years before they start to show signs of wear. If your Mustang's battery is older than that, consider purchasing a new one if your current battery shows signs of wear. And once again, get it inspected before winter!

Change Your Oil

It's a good idea to change your oil and filter before winter comes. Dirty oil can lead to problems. Especially when driving in harsh conditions. It also makes good sense. If you haven't changed it in a while, do it before it gets cold.

Check Your Cooling System

Change your anti-freeze and have your cooling system flushed if you haven't done so recently. While you're at it, check your hoses and belts. In general, the radiator should have a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze to water.

Inspect Your Brakes

If your brakes are not in proper working order, you're going to be in for a wild ride when winter comes. Make sure they check out before you hit the road this winter. Report any problems, such as pulling to one side, to your mechanic immediately.

Winter Wipers and Cold Weather Washer Fluid

If you've ever driven your Mustang in the snow, you probably remember what it was like having all that slush from passing cars land on your windshield. Bottom line, you're going to need good wipers. Replace yours with winter wipers if needed. Another problem is washer fluid that freezes and won't come out as it should. Switch to cold-weather washer fluid to avoid this problem. This is especially important when you're trying to get all that slush off your windshield.

Check the Exhaust

Exhaust leaks can be deadly in winter. Reason being, most folks let their Mustangs idle for a bit before they drive out onto the road. If you have an exhaust leak, carbon dioxide fumes making their way into the vehicle can be deadly. Check to make sure your exhaust is in good condition. Also make sure all your clamps and hangers are secure.

Lights are Essential

Inspect your Mustang's headlights and brake lights. If you can't see when you're driving this winter, you're in for a wild ride. Also make sure others can see your Mustang when you brake. If your tail lights are out, replace them as soon as possible.

Keep Your Tank Full

A full tank of gasoline can help prevent your gas-line from freezing this winter. When your tank is empty, it is more prone to the build up of condensation. It also makes perfect sense to drive with plenty of gasoline in your tank when conditions outside are harsh. Always keep your tank at least half-way full in the winter.

Put a Bag of Sand in the Trunk

Rear-wheel drive vehicles are notorious for poor traction when the roads are slick. This winter, put a 100- pound bag of sand in your trunk. It can help your Mustang's rear end grip the road better. Regardless, you'll still need to be VERY easy on the accelerator when driving in such conditions.

Always Be Prepared

Always make sure you have a jack in your Mustang. If you need to change a tire, you'll need one. Also, it's a good idea to put a blanket in your car, as well as a map, flashlight, jumper cables, and flares. Also carry a few bottles of water and some non-perishable food with you at all times. If you do break down, make sure you'll have what you need to survive.
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