Time for a personal confession. I’ve dreaded writing today’s post. Why? Because I think of the hundreds of times we’ve heard public service announcements about getting our cars ready for winter, and how many more hundreds of times we’ll hear the same old same old this year.
Then I remember the author of Deep Survival saying many accidents happen because people are over confident. They think they know what they’re doing and don’t take the time they do the things they really do know they need to do. Getting your car ready for winter truly is important.
From what I’ve been hearing, fewer people are flying this holiday season, which means more will be driving. It’s especially important to be prepared before you travel long distances. We get busy and assume everything’s all right, partly because cars don’t have the problems they used to in decades past.
My wife took her car in for service a few weeks back and was told she’d better get two new tires. That was no sales hype. She really needed them. The front tires were so worn the cords were beginning to show. She could have had a blowout. So she got the front tires replaced. The spare needed to be replaced as well.
With that in mind, I share the following tips about winter weather preparedness for your car.
The first thing to do is check the weather and anticipate storms or other inclement conditions. Plan for extra travel time. You may need to do this to accommodate traffic anyway.
To winterize your car, attend to the following:
* Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing.
* Ensure the heater and defroster work properly.
* Check and repair windshield wiper equipment; ensure proper washer fluid level.
* Ensure the thermostat works properly.
* Check lights and flashing hazard lights for serviceability.
* Check for leaks and crimped pipes in the exhaust system; repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
* Check breaks for wear and fluid levels.
* Check oil for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
* Consider snow tires, snow tires with studs, or chains. Install good winter tires. Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
* Replace fuel and air filters. Keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
Carry a Winter Storm Survival Kit in your car, which should include:
* blankets/sleeping bags
* flashlight with extra batteries
* battery powered radio
* first-aid kit with Necessary medications included
* knife, such as a good pocket knife
* high-calorie, non-perishable food, including snack foods
* extra clothing to keep dry, including extra hats, socks and mittens
* a large empty can and plastic cover with tissues and paper towels for sanitary purposes.
* a smaller can and water-proof matches to melt snow for drinking water
* sack of sand (or cat litter)
* windshield scraper and brush or small broom
* tool kit
* tow rope
* booster cables
* water container
* compass and road maps
* emergency flares
* fluorescent distress flag
Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.
Try not to travel alone. Let someone know your timetable and primary and alternate routes.
Whether you’re getting ready to travel over Thanksgiving or for activities in the next few weeks, be alert and stay safe. I hear the first part of December could get more wintry than what we’ve experienced so far this season. Don’t take chances you don’t have to. Be sure your car is ready for what winter has to dish out.