Winter Car Safety
Winter is no time to worry about the condition of your car. Falling temperatures and falling snow can put you at increased risk if your car is not ready. Checking your car’s condition and equipment now will insure against unwanted and risky failures. You rely on your car keeping it reliable and safe in winter requires some basic steps
Preparing Your Car:
Check the equipment required for safe winter operation:
Tires should have good tread and free from leaks – air leaks can become much worse as temperatures drop.
Braking and steering should be reliable. Brake and steering fluid levels need to be maintained to guarantee safe operation in cold temperatures.
Coolant system should be prepared for winter. The demands placed on a coolant system in summer than those in winter.
Windshield wipers, defrost system, heater and windshield cleaner system all need to be checked to insure their reliable operation.
Pack some extra equipment:
Depending on how extreme winter weather gets
Pack additional clothing, extra boots, gloves; a flashlight, a shovel and sand; extra coolant mixed 50% coolant 50% water.
More extreme conditions require more equipment – a blanket, a sleeping bag, road flares, tire chains (where allowed by law) and food.
Fill your gas tank and keep it full as often as possible. The added weight will provide balance to your vehicle and in the worst case your gasoline supply and car heater may be all that stands between you and freezing.
Preparing for the worst possible scenario will make its eventuality survivable.
Driving Your Car:
Poor road conditions require a different style of driving than dry pavement. Pick an open parking lot with no obstructions and practice driving on ice and snow. Learn or refresh the skills needed to recover from a spin or a slide. Practice overcomes that shocking feeling in your gut when you realize the roads are more dangerous than you expected.
Do not drive a Snow Tank – clear your car off. Clean and scrap all the windows and exterior mirrors. Clear the snow from your hood and roof to prevent blowing snow from obstructing your vision. Clear your head lights, turn signals and brake lights so that others will see you.
Beware – bridges, over passes and sharp turns. Be careful around underpasses, shaded areas and other places where ice is slow to melt. Beware wide open areas where high winds and blowing snow can make driving more difficult and drifting snow can accumulate.
Change your behavior to match the weather. Slowing down increases traction and allows for additional response time. Fractions of a second can prevent a tragic accident. You should expect every trip, no matter how short, will take more time, and allow extra time. Four wheel drive is not perfect and due caution should still be exercised in deep snow and on ice covered roads. Anticipate; avoid sharp turns and abrupt stops. Use low beams to reduce the glare from falling and blowing snow.
If you are planning a trip in an unfamiliar place in winter conditions contact the local authorities for weather and road information. Allow additional travel time, make a list of emergency contacts and pay attention to local radio if weather gets especially severe.
Preparation can make the difference between making it safely to your winter destination and making the local news paper’s head lines. Do not make the story of your winter adventures a tragedy.