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Thursday, December 13, 2007
Get Your Car Ready For Winter Conditions
With the holiday season upon us, getting your vehicle ready for the winter is the last thing on your mind. But you rely on your vehicle to accomplish most of these tasks, which is especially a necessity during the holiday season. Even if you are not traveling, your friends and family most likely are, so to maximize safety on the road and give you some tips on how to avoid or be able handle unsafe weather conditions, we offer the following tips for winterizing your vehicle and keeping it in top shape.
Preparing your vehicle for driving in harsh winter weather isn't difficult. "The best time to actually prepare your vehicle for winter is when it’s still warm outside," says Advance Auto Parts director of consumer education Bryan Gregory. Keep in mind that you will want to complete this checklist at least before the first snowfall.
1. While your engine is cold, inspect your antifreeze by using a tester to check the mixture for its freeze point. A 50/50 ratio means 50% distilled water and 50% antifreeze, which is enough in most climates, except in extreme cold.
2. Getting stranded in the cold is no fun! Starting your car in cold weather makes the battery work much harder, so have your charging system checked by a reliable professional.
3. Change your oil and oil filter, using high quality engine oil. To protect your motor in cold start situations, use the oil recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
4. Make a visual inspection of all lights, marker bulbs, tail lights, and third level brake lights, especially headlights and driving lights. Daylight savings time means bulbs work longer hours.
5. Winter driving requires good traction in snow and ice, so check your tire tread condition. Quality tires shed snow, ice and road grime more quickly, providing better traction for improved safety. Check your tire pressure often, especially in colder temperatures. For maximum traction, follow the recommended PSI found on the driver’s side doorpost.
6. Visibility is the key to your safety. Road salt and slush can jeopardize visibility, so make sure that your wiper blades are in top condition, and able to fully clear your windshield, and back window (if the vehicle is so equipped). To avoid the chiseling of ice early in the morning, use washer fluid that contains de-icer and Rain-X Treatment on windows.
7. Don’t get stranded on your next trip because of a $10.00 belt or hose. Cracked, frayed or worn out rubber won’t stand up to temperature extremes, so inspect all your engine’s belts and hoses.
8. If the vehicle is equipped with a cabin air filter, replace it. Outside contaminants from fall and summer driving are still trapped in the cabin air filter, so when you run the heater on “high” in the extreme cold, it sends the micro-particles deeper into the vehicle.
9. Rain, snow and salt are extremely tough on paint. Protect your vehicle’s paint with a tough coating of quality car wax to add another barrier in-between road grime and your vehicle’s paint.
10. Prepare a roadside emergency kit that includes a flashlight, fresh batteries, blanket, food bars, water bottles, cell phone, jumper cables, flares, flat fix kit, HELP Sign, and a first aid kit.
"Even though you may never use it, it is essential to always carry a winter emergency kit in your vehicle," Gregory says, "a small amount of preparation now could save your own, or someone else’s life later on down the road."
Abrupt movements of any kind are extremely dangerous and can cause severe accidents when driving in the snow and ice. It's important to always travel at a safe and careful speed, creating as much possible down force on the tires. Drive with your headlights on, during both day and night, for better visibility, and leave extra space between you and other vehicles, both in front of you and behind you. Remember, visibility is the key, especially during inclement weather, so be certain to defrost and remove ice from all windows before driving.
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