Now that summer is a distant memory and winter is just around the corner, it’s time to prepare yourself for the cold winds and freezing temperatures. It’s risky to get behind the wheel and drive on a snow-covered road knowing there is a risk of a breakdown in the severe weather.
It is important to prepare your vehicle for the winter season and know how to react if lost or stranded on the road so that you can stay safe. From changing your wiper blades to installing a four-tire set, there are countless things you can do to prepare for the worst phase of winter. A little investment and a few hours of preparation can give you peace of mind and avoid the hassle of a breakdown.
Here are a few tips to prepare yourself and your vehicle for driving in the winter:
It goes without saying that the tires must be changed according to the winter season – whether it is front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel.
It’s always best to schedule a check-up for maintenance of your car before winter strikes to make sure that the tires and tire pressure is up to the mark. Depending on where you drive, you can also consider getting tire chains along with winter tires. If you are driving on wet roads on an extremely cold day, studded tires are a good choice.
Another useful tip is to avoid stretching more miles from the tires during winter. If the tread depth gets too low, it can have serious effects on dry pavements, but the effects are multiplied in snowy conditions. Under-inflated tires lead to a slower reaction of the car for steering. In winter, the air pressure in the car goes down as it loses air through permeation.
A dead battery can leave you stuck for hours. Therefore, make sure you get it tested before winter starts to avoid getting stranded in the middle of a chilly night. Some local stores test batteries free of charge. Keep jumper cables or a booster pack in your car at all times in case of emergency. They come in handy if you’re stuck due to unexpected battery failure.
Be prepared and check your car battery and replace it if necessary. It’s always a good idea to buy a spare one just to be on the safe side. If you know your battery may not be the most reliable and want to secure yourself for winter, you can find some quality car batteries here.
Many shops have battery replacement facilities with seasonal maintenance specials. If your car is having trouble starting up, check the battery and ignition system to assure that there is proper starting capability. Clean and identify the battery terminals for any build up.
A car’s battery needs its own annual routine and when stored for a long time, it will self-discharge or get depleted as the electrolytes meet freezing temperatures. Both problems can be avoided by proper battery storage with a charger.
If you live in a particularly cold region, learning how to use a block heater can be quite helpful when winters get harsh and the temperature drops below the freezing point regularly. A block heater is a simple device that can save your engine from temperature damage. Not all vehicles have a block heater installed so first find out if you have one. You can find out from your dealership the details of the block heater.
All you need to do is plug in the heater for a few hours at night and your car will pick up easily in the morning.
Locks, Doors and Latches
Spend some time lubricating the locks, doors, hinges and latches, and treat the window seals before deep freeze hits. There are silicone-based lubricating compounds available in aerosol cans. Spraying windows and doors with weather seals will make them less prone to freezing in winter.
Winter Driving Guidelines
While preparing for winter, many people forget about driving. While you are on the road, be mentally prepared for blockages and delays along the way and give yourself more time to reach your destination. Leave earlier than your normal schedule and start your trip slowly.
Test your brakes and steering to get an idea of how much control you have over the road.
After reaching a level of comfort, gradually increase the speed and maintain control at all times. You may also have to drive below the speed limit at instances. In case your vehicle skids, stay calm and steer in a direction free of traffic. While driving, keep at least 3-second following distance between you and the other vehicles so you can stop safely in case someone ahead hits the brakes suddenly. This way you can ensure the safety of everyone on the road.
It is important to be prepared for the winter driving before the first flakes catch you off-guard.