Winter is here and as we approach more snow-filled months, consider creating a checklist for your car to ensure safe travel during this season.
Here are a few things that can make navigating the winter weather (and roads) a bit safer:
Build a safety kit: An emergency safety kit is great to have in your car all year round, but certain items can be a lifesaver in the winter. Some great things to have in your safety kit are a pad of paper and a pencil, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and some non-perishable food items. In the winter, you should also add a blanket, hat, and gloves, and Safety Absorbent, cat litter, or sand to provide traction if you get stuck.
Plan your commute: In the winter, your commute may be longer as weather and road conditions worsen. Planning for the drive to work can help save you time and prepare you for any surprises ahead! Checking the weather the night before can help you determine how road conditions may be and if you need to build in additional time to shovel snow in order to leave the driveway. Using the GPS navigation on your phone to see any accidents or construction can indicate how long your commute will be and if there will be traffic.
Clear all snow and ice off of your car: While it can be a hassle to get your car completely cleared off, it can save you and other vehicles from the dangers of chunks of snow and ice flying off of your car on the highway. When expecting winter weather, make sure to build in enough time in the morning allow yourself enough time to do this. If you hate waiting for the ice to defrost your windshield, consider investing in a windshield cover. And if you have a larger truck or SUV, make sure to get a snow scraper/brush that allows you to reach the roof.
Check your tires: Check your tires to ensure that you have sufficient tread depth. Tread depth is essential as it provides traction, reduces stopping distance, and helps water escape on wet roads. When your tire traction is too low, it will lessen your control over your vehicle and possibly cause you to hydroplane on wet roads. You already have less traction when driving in snowy and icy weather.
Keep your gas tank filled: Gas stations switch between summer and winter gas to provide the most efficiency for your vehicle in different weather. Winter gas is more volatile and evaporates more quickly. This quicker evaporation allows your engine to operate correctly, especially when the engine is cold. Due to this faster evaporation, you will want to keep a cautious eye on your gas levels.
Test your car battery: When the temperature drops, your battery requires a stronger current to start. You don’t want to be stranded in cold temperatures with a car that won’t start. If you don’t have a way to test your battery at home, many auto parts stores will try it for free. Once your battery is in good working condition, an excellent way to prevent issues is to clean and protect your battery terminals. Cleaning the battery terminals will prevent complicated starting problems, as corrosion buildup can cause these issues. Once clean, liberally spray the terminals with battery terminal protectant spray to prevent corrosion in the future.
Change wiper blades: Wiper blades take some severe abuse. It’s best to make sure you have a good pair that will provide sufficient visibility out of your windows. While you’re changing those wiper blades, you should also make sure your car is fully stocked up on windshield wiper fluid as well!
Oil and coolant: Check your owner’s manual to see if a different oil is recommended in the winter. Sometimes a thinner oil is recommended during the winter months, which helps reduce friction in your engine to help it start quickly during cold temperatures. Coolant is a critical liquid in your motor to ensure that it doesn’t freeze or crack during the winter. You will want to check to make sure you have the correct coolant to water ratio.
Driving tips for different surfaces: Roads in the winter can get sloppy due to unpredictable weather. It’s important to remember simple tips while driving to safely get from point A to B. Accelerate and decelerate slowly to avoid skidding or sliding on the road. Brakes can be finicky, so increasing your following distance to prevent a bumper-to-bumper collision. Black ice can be hard to spot on roads, but it can look like a glossy surface in the right light. When driving, try to avoid these spots since your wheels won’t grip the road, and you can lose control of your vehicle.
Enjoy the beauty winter has to offer and stay safe when out on the roads.