If you have independent seniors in your life, making sure they are safe on the road is most certainly a priority. Winterizing vehicles for seniors is one way to help ensure their safety and the safety of others on the road.
6 Things You Should Do to Winterize a Vehicle for a Senior
1. Check the coolant/antifreeze and brake fluid.
If the coolant does not reach the full line, add a 50/50 mix of water and coolant, and the brake fluid level should be within about half an inch from the cap. Be sure to use the proper fluids for the particular vehicle.
2. Inspect the tread on the tires to ensure the tires have not become worn, and consider swapping them for winter tires.
Especially if the senior’s vehicle is older, be sure to inspect the tires. Hold a quarter face down into a tire tread groove. If the tread is in good shape, part of Washington’s head will be covered. If you can see his entire head, it may be time to replace the tire.
If they are not already on the vehicle, you may want to add winter tires. Both you and the owner of the vehicle will have greater peace of mind knowing that you have tires that are more secure on the roads.
3. Make sure there are no problems with the heater.
Below freezing temperatures are especially dangerous for seniors, but you often don’t realize that the car’s heater isn’t working until it’s too late. In addition to the car not warming up, following are some signs that you may have a heater core problem:
- You smell coolant inside the vehicle.
- The windows fog up for no other apparent reason.
- Coolant drips from under the dashboard.
4. Inspect the rubber on the windshield wipers.
Driving on Michigan’s roads with windshield wipers that are not functioning properly can be hazardous. High-quality, new windshield wipers will clear the windshield of snow, ice, and mud more completely.
5. Have the battery checked.
Cold weather can wreak havoc on a car battery. Have a mechanic run a battery load test, which will determine if the battery needs to be replaced. The mechanic can also inspect the battery to see if general repairs are needed.
6. Add a remote start system.
If the vehicle isn’t already equipped with a remote start system, consider having one installed. Doing so will help keep seniors from attempting to drive the car while it’s still too cold. You can get them installed into a vehicle at a variety of dealerships, auto repair shops, or specialty businesses. They cost approximately $250 to $400.
Preventative Maintenance for Seniors’ Vehicles
In addition to these occasional tasks, it’s important to inspect vehicles regularly.
- Check the pressure of each of the tires, and fill them with air or replace them if necessary. The tire pressure should be checked once a month. Keep in mind that cold temperatures can lower tire pressure.
- Check the level of fluids under the hood, including the oil and windshield washer fluid. You should do this at least once a month.
- The driver should look at the gauges daily to make sure nothing is in need of maintenance, especially making note of the temperature gauge.
Items to Keep in a Car for the Winter
In addition to winterizing vehicles for seniors, you may want to make sure they have the tools they will need for the season. If they are unable to use these items on their own, you should still have them available for others to use on their behalf. They include:
- An ice scraper/brush
- A spare set of winter clothing, such as dry gloves
- A blanket, flashlight, first aid kit, and flares, which can be used in case of emergencies
- Jumper cables
- Spare tire
- Backup cellphone and cellphone charger
Other things you should consider doing is to make sure your loved one has a reliable mechanic nearby, and you may want to remind the driver that the gas tank should always be at least half full, especially in cold temperatures.
Give the Car a Break
If your loved one resides in one of our senior living communities, we can do the driving. We provide transportation services for errands, medical appointments, outings, entertainment, and more. Visit our Waltonwood website to learn more.