Fall will soon make way for winter. And with that comes the need to prepare ourselves for the colder months. For many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, you can also look forward to the onset of the white stuff.
Snow, sleet and freezing rain brings with it a number of challenges. Vehicle safety being one of them.
The fact is, we all do a lot of running around in our cars during winter. The holiday season may mean hitting the road to visit family. There’s also all that shopping to do. The daily work commute can also take longer due to slippery roads and the early evening darkness.
Ensuring your vehicle is safely up to the job should be a number one priority. Here’s 5 simpl steps you can take to achieve just that:
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1. Use engine coolant / antifreeze
No one wants to be stranded because of a vehicle breakdown. The experience is doubly worse in freezing conditions.
One of the main reasons your motor have problems in the winter is if you haven’t kept her antifreeze levels up.
It does exactly what it says on the tin – stops your engine from freezing (while not in use) during sub zero temperatures.
Most auto supply stores sell all in one kits that contain tools to check your levels, as well as the fluids to put them right.
If you do not know how to top up your car with antifreeze, you should consult your car’s manual, as models do differ.
2. Make a survival supply box
While you may think this one sounds like overkill, having a box of supplies in your trunk in case your car does break down in winter is a smart move.
A good kit should consist of the following:
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Road flares and a high visibility warning triangle
- First-aid kit
- Some blankets
- Spare, warm and waterproof gloves
- A cable to charge your cell phone from inside the car
- A bag of sand for traction if you become stuck on ice or snow
- An extra ice scraper and window de-icer
- Some high-energy non-perishable snacks
- A bottle of water, (refreshed periodically)
- A tow rope and some jump leads
You never know how long you could be stranded after a breakdown during bad winter weather. Preparation will make a world of difference in your comfort levels throughout.
3. Use winter-grade oil
When the tempreture starts to drop you should think about switching to an engine oil suited to colder weather.
The ideal way to do this is by scheduling your automobile for a seasonal oil change. Winter oil has a lower viscosity. If you normally use a 10W-30 oil for example, you could opt to use 5W-30 instead. (The auto shop carrying out the oil change will be able to advise).
The change will help ensure that your vehicle performs as it should in sub-zero tempretures.
4. Check Tire pressure and tread depth
Your tires need to be in good condition all year round, however the need for correct pressure and tread depth in winter is even more essential.
It can make the difference between your car safely sticking to the road in tough conditions and losing traction resulting in an accident.
You can easily check your tire pressure with a gauge sold at any auto supply store. Your vehicle’s manual will state the correct pressure level.
A gas station will have the appropriate pump that you can use, (more often than not for free).
Testing your tire tread can be done using the age-old “Lincoln test”.
Take a penny from your pocket and insert it into the tire tread. The top of Lincoln’s head should be pointing into the tire.
If all of Lincoln’s head is visible, your tire needs changing.
For those that live where snow is a big part of the winter months, (i.e hanging around for most of it). You will probably need winter tires.
Simply swapping all 4 tires for those better suited to the conditions should be part of your annual routine.
5. Winter wiper fluid
Our final tip is obvious, but you will be surprised how many people forget to do this. On the first icy morning come late fall, they will give the windshield a spray with the normal wiper fluid, only to frost up their screen.
Be prepared. Before the weather drops to breath vapour-visibility, exchange your wiper fluid for the winter version.
This won’t freeze on your windshield when you use it. Winter fluid will also help clear the frost that has settled on your screen while your vehicle has not been used.
And there you have it. Follow those 5 simple winter prep driving tips for a safer time on the road this season.
Image Credits: Pixabay