Winter is that time of year that no-one can avoid. Icy cold winds, snow and “freezing” rain, are just some of the weather conditions we associate with winter. Whilst many people love the winter weather, the motoring public sure don’t! That’s because winter wreaks havoc on the roads.
Many places are often unprepared for freak weather conditions. Remember what New York and other parts of the US were like last winter? Our friends across the pond (the UK) didn’t have as bad weather in comparison for a change!
Heated highways and 24/7 snow ploughing are things that most of us can only dream of. But in reality, we have to deal with hazardous driving conditions. We also have to deal with poor driving examples from other motorists. And not to mention the inevitable traffic jams that come with such bad weather.
As much as we would love to control the weather, we can’t. We can try to predict what might happen, but predictions can often be wrong as we all know. But what we can control is how we prepare for winter driving.
The focus of today’s article is to help you prepare for winter so that you can cut the amount of disruption you might face. Feel free to print this handy guide out if you like!
Give your car a thorough inspection
It doesn’t matter whether you carry out your own repairs or you have an auto shop take care of things for you. Before winter arrives, you should take the time to give your car a thorough inspection so that it is ready for the cold season!
There are several key areas that you need to check, and they are as follows:
1 – Tires. These black rubber bands that cover your wheels often get overlooked by car owners. But in winter weather, they are vital to preventing accidents and injury. I recommend that you fit tires designed just for winter use.
That’s because they offer better traction in wet and snowy conditions. Your tires should also have plenty of tread, as close to the 8mm tread depth that new tires come with. Replace any tires with defects like bulges, cracks or tears. And if your tires are reaching the 1.6mm legal tread depth limit, get them changed immediately.
2 – Battery. Car motors need a lot of juice to get started up. Your car should have a high-quality battery that offers plenty of “cold cranking amps.” If your battery is more than five years old, or has problems keeping a charge, replace it with a new one as soon as possible.
The last thing you want to do is have problems starting your car on a cold winter’s morning. A duff battery can prevent you from going to work or taking the kids to school;
3 – Cooling and heating systems. Make sure that there are no problems with your car’s cooling and heating systems. If the heating doesn’t work in your car, it could be something as simple as a broken resistor or as complex as a blocked heater matrix.
The thermostat in your engine should get checked that it opens and closes when it’s supposed to. Consider having the antifreeze replaced if it’s more than two or three years old;
4 – Exterior lights. It’s no secret that it will be dark outside more often during the winter months. That’s why it is important your car’s exterior lights are in good working order. Have a friend help you check your headlights, taillights and fog lights work as they should;
5 – Windshield washer system. You will use your windshield wipers and washer jets a lot during winter. Make sure your wiper blades don’t streak or judder, and ensure the jets are not blocked. Keep the windshield washer fluid topped up during winter.
Keep your car clean
During the winter months of the year, you will often see road salt getting spread across various roads. Salt helps to melt snow and ice, and so makes winter driving that much safer. The only trouble with salt is that it can eat into metal, which is bad news for the cars that drive over them!
To lessen the risk of your car turning into a rusty clunker, make sure that you wash you on a regular basis. You don’t need to go mad and do a full detail on your car every weekend, for example. A simple wash and rinse will suffice as your main aim is to remove any salt clinging to the sides or underneath your pride and joy.
Another reason keeping your car clean is a good idea is for safety. Other motorists are more likely to see you when you drive in the dark if your headlights and taillights are clear. But if they get covered in dirt and grime, and even snow and ice, they might not see you until it’s too late!
If you don’t like the idea of cleaning your car yourself on a regular basis, you can always pay someone else to do it for you! For example, you could use a hand car wash or an automatic drive-thru one.
Keep an emergency kit in your car
You might have the forethought to make sure your car is roadworthy enough for winter. But there is no way that you can predict any emergency situations you might face whilst driving. That’s why you should prepare in advance by keeping an emergency kit in your car at all times!
Some of the items that should form part of your kit are as follows:
*LED flashlight with spare batteries;
*Spare charged battery for your cell phone and a 12v charger;
*Jump leads (or even better, a battery pack);
*Snow shovel and some flat pieces of cardboard;
*First aid kit;
*Bottle of water;
*Snacks like peanuts and granola bars;
*Deicer cans and window scrapers.
Well, that just about wraps up this handy guide to preparing for winter. Good luck and stay safe!