There is no other time of the year that our automobiles will take as much of a beating as they do in winter. Icy roads and frosty windshields can lead to more accidents than you could ever realize. It is up to us to do everything we can to ensure our safety and protect one of our most valuable assets, our cars (not to mention our most valuable possession, our lives). Making sure your vehicle is safe of the winter months all comes down to routine checks and safety precautions that we should be taking into consideration anyway. A little extra effort goes a long way when it comes to winter-proofing our cars.
Check Your Tires
In the ice, snow, and slush many people suddenly find their cars spinning out of control. Before winters comes around give your tires a quick check to ensure the tire pressure is correct, and that they still have enough traction to handle the wild wintry roads. All it takes is one bald spot for you to lose control. Consider getting winter tires with added traction specifically made for winter driving.
Replace Wiper Blades and Refill on Window Deicer
Unless you are parking in a garage, your windows are likely to be frosted or iced over in the morning. In a rush to get to work, we often neglect this necessary safety precaution. Always letter your windows deice fully before hitting the road. It’s also essential to make sure your wiper blades are fully functional. This is a cheap maintenance solution that can ensure your safety.
Antifreeze is essential for ensuring the water in your engine doesn’t free up, rendering your car temporarily useless. There are many different kinds of antifreeze; talk with your mechanic, so you get the best type for your car.
Put Together a Winter Safety Kit
If you’re going on a winter road trip, then a winter safety kit could save your life. If you slide off the road in icy conditions, then you might be forced to keep yourself warm and alive until emergency crews arrive. It’s always a good idea to have a winter safety kit in your vehicle. Whether you’ve slid off the road or you’re stuck on a highway while emergency crews clean up, a winter safety kit can save your life. Here’s what to put inside:
- Warm blankets
- Gloves, a hat, scarves, and other items to keep you warm
- A bag of sand or kitty litter (if you get stuck in mud or on ice, this gives you added traction)
- An ice scraper and brush
- A shovel
Check your Battery
There is a reason cars sometimes fail to start in the winter: your car’s battery loses a significant amount of power when the temperature drops below freezing. Below freezing, your battery instantly loses about 33% of its power. If the temperature falls below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, your battery has lost 60% of its power. Consider taking a trip to your local mechanic to determine if your car’s battery is in optimal condition. Sometimes, it’s better to replace a faulty, corroded, or poor-quality battery today instead of waiting until you get stuck outside in freezing temperatures.
Consider Switching to a Thinner Oil
Consider switching to a thinner oil the next time you get an oil change. This is especially important if you just moved from a warm-weather state to a winter state. The oil you used in Florida might thicken up during a Minnesota winter. Consult your owner’s manual to check which oils are compatible with your vehicle. Or, talk to a local mechanic for recommendations.
In certain climates, the locks of your vehicle can freeze over, making it impossible to get inside. This is particularly common for older cars with more rudimentary locking systems. If you want to avoid getting locked out, then buy some glycerol (also known as glycerine). It’s available at any discount store, hardware store, or auto parts store. It comes in a tube. It de-ices your lock, allowing you to get inside. Of course, you can always use warm water to de-ice your lock. However, you might not always have access to warm water. Buy glycerol and make sure you have it on-hand – not locked in your car when you need it most.
Get Suitable Insurance Coverage
Your chances of getting in a car accident almost double during the winter. Protect yourself and your car by ensuring you have suitable coverage. A good, full coverage auto insurance package is guaranteed to protect you financially in the event of an accident. Make sure you are adequately insured! If not, scroll up to the top of this page and enter your zip code to get a quote.
This is the most common sense tip and by far the most important. Don’t hesitate to drive below the speed limit if roads appear dangerous. Remember, black ice may prevent you from spotting hazardous stretches of road, so always drive defensively. Keep lane changing to a minimum, especially at high speeds; this is when we are most likely to lose control. Remember, each auto accident you are involved in will raise your car insurance premiums. Think of safe driving as a way to save money on insurance.