No matter where you are traveling for the holidays, it can be stressful. But don’t let long lines, security checks, and bad drivers get your holiday spirits down in the dumps. To avoid a mega meltdown, try these tips for travel survival.
Before the cold weather really hits, it is best to prepare your car as best as possible to ensure that it’s running well and safely. While vehicles are made to handle inclement weather and cold temperatures, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your car is in the best possible condition.
Inspect Your Tires
Whether your car has front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or even four-wheel drive, inspect yours tires to make sure the tread is deep enough and the tire pressure is accurate. Worn down tires can be hazardous on slick winter roads.
- Tire Pressure – If you’ve never checked your tire’s pressure before, refer to your owner’s manual for the proper PSI. Most gas stations have air stations for your tires.
- Tread Check – The easiest way to ensure your tire tread is safe is with the penny test: hold a penny between your forefinger and thumb so you can see Lincoln’s head. Place the penny (upside down) in the tire tread and if you can see Lincoln’s whole head, your tires need to be replaced.
Check All Fluid Levels
Make sure your car’s fluids are all topped off to start the cold season. You can check at home or take it to your local mechanic.
- Oil – Mechanics sometimes recommend using thinner oil in the winter months because the cold weather can make it thicker and harder on your engine, but check your owner’s manual just in case.
- Coolant – If you live where temperatures get below freezing, it is important to have the proper water/antifreeze mixture to prevent your radiator from freezing. You can pick up a tester at any auto parts store to make sure the fluid is filled up to maximum capacity.
- Windshield Washer Fluid – This may get overlooked, but make sure your washer fluid contains antifreeze so you can see clearly all winter long.
Test Your Battery
It’s not only your engine that dislikes cold weather – your battery gets cold too! In fact, colder temperatures can wreak havoc on your battery capacity.
Check your battery for any cracks, make sure the cable connections are snug, and check the charge level. You can do this by turning off your engine and looking at your battery’s built-in hydrometer to check the voltage levels. If your car doesn’t have a hydrometer built-in, you can pick one up at an auto parts store.
Have an Emergency Kit
In case of an emergency, you’ll want to be prepared with all the essentials for both you and your vehicle. Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need in case you get stranded this winter.
Keep Up Regular Maintenance
The best way to ensure your car is running smoothly this winter is to stay on top of routine maintenance – this means getting your oil changed regularly, have your belts and hoses checked by a mechanic, and get your engine tuned up as recommended. Every vehicle is different, so reading over your owner’s manual before the cold weather strikes can be incredibly helpful so you know what to expect.
There are arguably a few different times throughout the year that are ideal for buying a car. But December is the best time to buy a car.
It’s enough that dealerships are generally emptier during the holidays due to people traveling, but sales teams have looming quotas to meet before the year’s end. To put it simply, they want cars out the door. And the best way to do this is to run unbeatable deals.
In fact, consumers can expect to get almost 8% off MSRP values when buying a car in December as opposed to waiting until January.
Like any big purchase, it’s important to do your research before you buy a car, so do your research (and maybe even test drive a few) during the fall. This will give you plenty of time to decide what make, model, and trim options you want in your dream vehicle. But when it comes to making a purchase? Pull the trigger between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve.
Here are just a few reasons why December is the best time to purchase a car:
Better Leverage (& Negotiating)
Dealerships tend to be slower during the winter months, so in order for the sales team to meet their quotas, they will be desperate to get cars out the door and on the road. This means you, the buyer, will have better leverage to get a great deal on the vehicle you desire. Take advantage of an empty dealership to ask lots of questions and get in-depth about the car’s features, amenities, safety ratings, and when it comes down to price, don’t be afraid to haggle.
Making Space for Newer Models
October, November, and December see a lot of new makes and models come onto the scene in preparation for the new year. But this means the old inventory has to find a new home so there’s room on the lot. Meaning… prices will drop. If you are shopping for a car, instead of buying a 2019 model, look at 2018 models instead. The prices will be significantly lower because they aren’t the newest model on the market anymore. But December is when the prices hit the lowest – the longer a car sits on the lot unsold, the lower the price drops.
Peace of Mind
You may not think about this when you are purchasing a vehicle right away, but have a safe and reliable vehicle can bring you a lot of comfort during the winter months when road conditions are treacherous. Having a vehicle with new tires, top-notch breaking capabilities, and updated technology can give you more confidence when you are driving on slick and snowy roads.
Everyone loves a little extra cash for a holiday bonus. Why not out it to use and put it towards a down payment on a vehicle. If you can put down a higher percentage, you will be able to get a better interest rate, or better yet, if you can pay with cash, there’s a huge chance you can talk down the price even further!
If you’ve been dreaming of a new car, now is the time. This is the best time to buy a car, so put your haggling skills to use and be prepared to get the best prices on the market!
It’s time to deck the halls, and you go all out at home… but why stop there? More Americans travel during the holiday season than any other time during the year, so why not show your holiday spirit all season long as you drive down the road with some of these festive car decorations (that won’t scratch the paint or leave any marks on your vehicle!).
1. Rudolph Nose and Antlers
You can pick these festive decorations up at almost any auto store, Walmart , Target and Amazon this season. Attach the nose to your car’s grill using wire ties and the antlers safely hook onto your windows or door frame.
2. Garland and Wreaths
Get festive with decking your car out with wreaths or garlands! Easily attach wreaths to your car’s grill with red ribbon or zip ties. If you want to get super festive, use a battery-powered pre-lit wreath to help light the way this holiday season!
3. Car Paint
Just like people write “Just Married!” on vehicle windows, get in the holiday spirit and use your creativity to draw and write holiday sayings on your vehicle’s windows. These paint pens can be easily washed off and don’t block your vision while you’re driving.
4. Window Decals and Magnets
Throwback to the 90’s with window decals! Meant for windows and glass doors, switch things up and use them in your car. Stick them on the inside of the window and smooth out any air bubbles. Magnets are another great way to add some holiday spirit to your car. Find some cute ones on Amazon!
5. Festive Steering Wheel and Seat Covers
If you aren’t big on decorating the exterior of your car, but still want to spread holiday cheer, try adding holiday seat covers and a steering wheel cover! This also doubles as a way to keep your hands warmer on your steering wheel during the cold months.