With the memory of last years harsh winter still fresh in our minds it looks like were in for another frosty one this year, is your car ready for it? Following these winter driving tips will have you and your car more than ready for the harsh winter driving conditions we all look forward to this time of year. Maintenance is the key to keep you off the side of the road this winter. If your car hasn’t been serviced recently, it might be worth getting it done before winter sets in. It’ll help ensure that everything’s in good order when the temperature drops.
Winter Driving Tips #1 Maintenance
Winter driving puts an increased strain on both you and your car, so it’s important to make sure that everything is in good working order. A well maintained vehicle is far less likely to break down due to a temperature drop. Fixing something that’s relatively inexpensive now, might prevent a much more costly failure in the colder conditions and/or prevent you from having to pay a costly recovery fee after becoming stranded.
Winter Driving Tips #2: Check your car’s battery
Cold temperatures put added strain on your car’s battery. Its not uncommon for a battery that starts your car normally the rest of the year to fail in colder temperatures. If you find your car slow to turn over as the temperature falls, your battery is might be on its way out. Check the condition of your battery terminals and have them serviced as necessary. If you’ve any doubts about the condition of the battery, get it tested by a local garage. If your battery is more than 5 years old, its probably time to replace it.
Winter Driving Tips #3: Check your cars fluids.
Stay on top of all your vehicles serviceable fluid levels and condition. Oil, coolant, windshield washer, power-steering, transmission, and brake fluid can be easily checked by the driver on most vehicles. Some fluids like transfer case, and differential are not as easily accessible and should be checked by your mechanic. Low and/or contaminated fluids can quickly leave you on the side of the road looking forward to a costly repair bill.
Winter Driving Tips #4: Check your Tires
Your tires are the only connection between your vehicle and the road. Check your tire pressure, tread and condition.A comm on mistake is setting your tire pressure to the pressure listed on the tire. This is the maximum recommended pressure for the tire not the proper pressure for your vehicle. The recommended tire pressure size and rating for your vehicle should be listed on a plate on the drivers door or door pillar. Driving on a tire with low pressure will permanently damage the tire and lead to a blow out. If the tread is low the performance of the tire will be greatly reduced in wet and/or slippery driving conditions. Check the side-walls for any bulging, imperfections or damage, this could be the warning sign of an impending blow out and should taken care of immediately. Winter tires are designed for increased performance on cold and slippery roads and are a wise investment for anyone driving under these conditions. Shorter stopping distance and better handling in poor conditions come in very handy in winter driving conditions.
Winter Driving Tips #5: Visibility
Reduced visibility is a major winter driving issue, so give yourself the clearest view possible. Keep your wind-shield clean both inside and out to help your wipers clear and reduce glare from the lights of oncoming traffic. Invest in a quality set of wipers and clean any snow and ice away before turning them on. Turn your wipers off before you turn off the ignition to prevent possible damage the next time you start your car. A common winter problem is due to frozen wipers being left or turned on causing damage to the wiper motor, linkage or wipers. Keep your lights shining bright. Check that all of your lights are working properly. Repair any damaged or faded lenses. Carry an extra set of headlight bulbs just in case. Upgraded more powerful bulbs are available for most older vehicles and can greatly increase visibility.
Winter Driving Tips #6: Have Your Brakes Checked
Noise, vibration, soft or hard peal, and reduced stopping distance are all warning signs of a possible issue with your vehicles brakes. Your vehicles brakes are one of the most important safety related components of your vehicle and should be inspected, maintained and repaired by a trained professional. The last thing you need is for your brakes to fail, stick or pull your vehicle left or right in a panic stop situation due to improper installation and/or maintenance. Keep your brakes it top condition so they can perform at their best and give you a greater chance of avoiding a possible accident. Most mechanics will inspect your brakes for free when installing your snow tires.
Winter Driving Tips #7: Lubrication
Frozen locks, sticking doors and squeaky hinges can all be avoided with a little lubrication. Clear silicone lubrication works great on hinges, locks, latches, door rubbers and window channels to help keep things running smoothly. Take a little time to walk around your vehicle and lube all the moving parts that are prone to freezing and sticking over the winter. It will save you allot of aggravation when the temperature drops.
Winter Driving Tips #8: Keep it clean
All that slop, slush, sand, salt snow and ice that sticks to your vehicle is slowly eating away at it. You can see it on older vehicles, the brown rust spots and holes left behind after years of oxidation. But what you don’t see are the hidden problems caused by rust. Under your car there are steel fluid lines, moving suspension and brake parts, cables, wires exhaust pipes etc. that are all effected by corrosion. The best way to fight back is to keep your vehicle as clean as possible. Don’t let the dirt sit there and help the rust eat away at your vehicle. Undercoating and rustproofing are other good ways to fight back and prolong the life of your vehicle and help you get the most out of your investment.
Winter Driving Tips #9: Pack a survival kit
Its always good to prepare for the worse case scenario. If you were stuck in your vehicle in a snow storm would you have what it takes to make it through the night?
Essential Tools For Winter Driving
- Wind-shield brush and scraper
- Flash-light with extra batteries
- Extra, blankets hats, socks, and mittens
- Water, and snacks
- Booster cables
- Tow strap
- High-visibility vest
- Road Flares
- Phone charger
- List of emergency phone numbers
- Bag of sand or salt
I hope these winter driving tips help you safely navigate through another long and cold winter. Slow down don’t rush and make it home safe. One last winter driving tip, be sure to fill your fuel tank before heading out. If you run out of fuel you run out of heat!