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Hot Tips For Chilly Driving

When leaves turn, temperatures chill and autumn shifts into full gear, it’s time to start readying your car for cold weather.  This is especially important if you live in a climate where Old Man Winter arrives with his entourage of snow, ice and extreme temperatures.

Here are some tips to prep your vehicle for cold weather driving:

Extreme cold plus the use of windshield wipers, heaters and defrosters equals increased demand on your battery.  Make sure it’s up to the task by testing it with a voltage meter.  If your voltage tests less than 12.4V, you should either recharge or replace your battery.

Winter means less sunlight and increased reliance on your lights.  Perform a visual test on your headlights, taillights, reverse lights, turn signals and hazard lights to make sure they’re fully illuminated.  Replaced any burned out bulbs or fuses.

Prevent your radiator from freezing by making sure you have enough anti-freeze.  Check your level by either looking at the level indicator or removing the radiator cap.  Never remove the cap when the engine is hot, as the pressure can cause hot coolant to spray out of the reservoir. Anti-freeze concentration is typically a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze.  Check your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended level.  It’s easy to check the concentration yourself with a bulb gauge, or have a service person do it for you. While you’re under the hood (or your mechanic is) check all of your hoses for leaks and wear.

Nothing is more dangerous than a windshield full of frozen slush that renders you blind while driving. Check your windshield wipers to make sure they’re in good enough shape to contend with sleet and snow. Your wiper reservoir should have plenty of de-icer in it so you can quickly spray and clear snow and ice thrown up on your windshield from the road.  If you live in an extreme winter climate, purchase heavy-duty wipers for maximum clearing ability.

Check your tires to make sure they have plenty of tread for good traction on slippery winter roads.  Install snow tires if you live in an especially snowy area.

Equip your car with cold weather necessities like a snow/ice scraper, a snow brush, an emergency blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight, road flares, a snow shovel, extra windshield washer fluid and a first aid kit. 

Finally, use common sense when deciding whether to venture out in hazardous driving conditions.  Do you really need that pint of Ben & Jerry’s enough to risk skidding into a snowy embankment?  Probably not!  Stay off the road in dangerous weather unless driving is imperative.

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