Think Your Car is Winter-Proof? Here’s What You Might Be Missing.
Winter can’t be predicted. One week you’re struggling to pull your car out of the snow. The next week you’re splashing through puddles that snow left behind. It’s hard to know exactly what to prepare for.Unless you live in Maine or Minnesota, you probably pack a snow brush, put extra air in your tires, and consider yourself ready for the road. Think again. There’s lots of odds and ends to winterizing your car. Here’s some extras to keep in mind:
De-Icer Liquid for Windshield Wipers
Replace your windshield wiper fluid with de-icer. You can make your own by mixing Isopropyl alcohol and water. Make sure to carry extra in your car. Frost and snow storms can really tax your supply.
A Complete Survival Kit
You’re smart enough to pack a few extra items in your car– blankets, snow brush/scraper, flashlight, shovel, snacks and abrasives such as kitty litter or sand – but is your winter survival kit complete? In the event that you do get stranded, you’ll also need:
A phone charger
A bright piece of cloth to tie on your antenna or emergency flares
Aspirin and a back-up dose of prescriptions particularly medications used for critical conditions such as inhalers, antiseizure drugs, epipens, or antimigrain agents
Wireless entertainment, a deck of cards or reading materials
Uniform, Climate Appropriate Tires
If you live in a place where freezing temperatures are frequent — or projected to be – it’s worth getting seasonal tires. Do not skimp by replacing only the front. For the product to do it’s job, you will need to change on all four tires. Consult www.safercar.gov/Tire for tire performance and safety ratings.
Thorough Knowledge of Your Car
A car performs differently in freezing conditions. Before hitting the road, spend some time in an empty parking lot and get a feel for the change. This is particularly important if you are operating a new, rental or borrowed vehicle, are a teen driver, or driving in freezing conditions for the first time this year. Be sure to consult your owners manual for details on operating your vehicle during the cold months. Check for these:
Is your 4-wheel drive activated? If not, see owners manual.
Does your car have a timing belt? Check it’s condition. Belts wear out fast in the cold and can interfere or disable your engine.
If you’re driving an electric or hybrid car, switch to low-power-mode. Battery operated cars tend to accelerate more quickly, which can be hazardous in a snow-and-ice-induced crawl. Since you can’t manually change the gear, this is the best way to prevent too much rev from the engine
Upgrade your coolant. Make sure it’s changed within the time frame recommended by your owner’s manual. Get it tested for proper pH levels, water ratio, and add corrosion inhibitors.
Keep your battery charged. A fully charged battery can operate at a much lower temperature – about 100 Fahrenheit degrees below what an uncharged battery can handle.
Electric and hybrid cars should have thermal battery packs (most come standard). If not, store your car in a heated garage.
Keep your tank more than half full. Engines need more energy to operate in the cold. Furthermore, icy roads mean more stops and detours, which also uses more fuel. You don’t want to get stuck or stranded with an empty tank.
Dana Henry is a Content Strategist for Traffic Safety Store. After years working as a reporter and editor for print and online publications, Dana has developed her focus on emerging technology and innovation. She resides in Philadelphia and is an avid cyclist.
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