WINTER CHECK LIST
Tires- Snow or M+S rated all season radials, minimum 6/32 inch tread recommended for winter driving conditions
Wipers- winter or monobeam preferred. Also make sure washers work and fill with washer solution rated to -20 degrees
Battery- have tested, and I recommend replacement if more than 5 years old
Antifreeze- should test to -35 degrees, have PH tested, and flush if PH fails, or if coolant is over 5 years/150000 miles old for most cars since 2000. (2 YEARS 30000 for the older conventional "green" antifreeze)
Lights- make sure all lights are working, consider upgrading if you have trouble seeing at night, and recondition or replace headlights if cloudy or yellowed.
Heater/defroster- Most cars should start to produce heat within 3-5 minutes of DRIVING (longer if idling to warm up)
Exhaust- THIS IS A SAFETY ISSUE have the exhaust system inspected for potential leaks to prevent Carbon Monoxide from leaking into the passenger compartment
Emergency kit- a good blanket, cap, gloves, flashlight etc
Snowbrush or ice scraper
TIRE ROTATION & WHEEL BALANCING
I am often asked how often do I need to rotate my tires? Do I need to balance them too?
Most tire manufacturers will want you to rotate tires at 6000-10000 mile intervals. They often require this to maintain the warranty on new tires. These days, for most folks, that is about every other oil change. I would say at a minimum, at least once a year.
When I rotate tires, I often put one on the balancer for a check spin, and often as not, the tire is in fact out of balance. Out of balance tires result in wheel shimmy, typically over a speed range of 10-15 mph, say from about 35 mph and up. Imbalance can also result in premature tire wear, and the vibration is transmitted to other parts of the suspension. I would say at a minimum, you should balance at least the tires being placed on the front of the vehicle,and preferably all four. Balancing at least once a year is a good idea. As tires wear, and due to acceleration, turning, stopping etc, the balance does change, so just because they were balanced at installation does not make it a one and done deal.