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Preparing For Winter Driving

Cold is an enemy to cars and people alike. Be prepared when driving in the winter, temperatures alone can be as harmful as ice and snow. Make sure that you are prepared as well as the car.

Even though you may be driving a few miles down the street, if it is winter, still dress accordingly. An accident or a break-down can happen two miles or 200 miles away from home. Keep clothes in your car as though you are walking in freezing temperatures and heavy snow. If a battery dies, and you have to leave or even stay in your car and are not dressed accordingly, it could be a dangerous situation. Depending on the cold and conditions, hypothermia and frost bite can come on rather quickly. It is simple enough to keep an extra coat, gloves and boots in the trunk of your car.

Preparing your car for winter is of course a little more involved. Winter takes a toll on cars. Cold can affect tire pressure, and make pressure drop, improper inflation can cause traction problems. Make sure your spare is adequate, and inflated as well, and the jack and lift are there. Snow tires can improve winter driving dramatically. All-season tires are meant to perform in the snow, but at moderate snowfall levels. In areas of heavy snow, snow tires could be a sound and safe investment.  All fluids should be periodically checked regardless of the weather, but some may also need to be adjusted to fit winter conditions. Special windshield wiper fluids are available that are more combative against snow and ice. The wipers themselves should be checked for wear, and if your area is a heavy snow and ice region, special wiper blades made for wintry conditions can be swapped out. Engine oil is also susceptible to the extreme cold. In extreme cold special cold viscosity level oils can be used to prevent engine problems, as the cold can overly thicken all season engine oils. Anti-freeze should be checked and adjusted for winter driving; again there are specialty kinds of antifreeze designed for the winter cold. You should never let your car run low on gas, especially in the winter months. Gas lines can freeze if there is not enough gas in the car. Low gas levels of course can’t always be avoided, so in addition to a spare gas can being kept in the trunk; there are gas line anti-freeze additives that can be purchased as well.

Hopefully it will never happen, but there’s always a chance you could be stranded in extreme winter weather conditions. It is simple enough to keep basic survival tools in the trunk. Besides extra clothing, an extra blanket and non-perishable food and water should be available. Jumper cables are inexpensive and invaluable. A flashlight flares an ice scraper, and a small shovel should also be kept on board. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, or you are within a close distance to a safe place, do not leave your vehicle.   

Winter driving doesn’t have to be too stressful as long as you are prepared.