Winter is a fun time of year. There are always fun activities to do with the family or friends throughout the area even if it’s just going to that big hill in the neighborhood for some sledding or heading up to the mountains for skiing or snowboarding.. As such, we have to get from point A to point B somehow and 9 times out of 10, it’s with your vehicle.
Winter can put a toll on your vehicle with the cold weather and you always want to make sure you’re traveling safely. Here are a few safety tips to keep yourself and your car protected during the cold time of the year.
The power of your car battery is significantly reduced during freezing weather. You may feel as though your battery is fine when the weather is warm, but an older battery can fail once the weather is cold enough. If the battery in your car is four years old or more, make sure to have it tested and replace when needed. Make sure to keep jumper cables in your car at all time just in case. Another consideration is to have a portable power pack for emergency situations.
As we all know, motor oil is a very important aspect of your vehicle. You’ll want to put some thought into the kind of motor oil you are putting in your engine. During the cold time of the year, you’ll want to have an oil that can handle cold temperatures and will flow quickly to the critical parts of your engine.
Filters, coolant and hoses
You’ll want to make sure that your oil, gas and air filters are in good condition. Your coolant level and thermostat are two elements that make sure your engine warms up properly. The coolant in your vehicle should be replaced every two year and extended-life coolants can last around 5 years. Check to make sure your heater and defroster are working correctly as you won’t be able to drive if you can’t see through the windshield. Also, if you have any soft or leaking hoses, make sure to have those replaced if needed.
As air contracts in colder weather, the air in your tire will as well. The pressure of your tire will decrease as it becomes colder so you’ll want to ensure they’re inflated properly. Not having enough pressure in your tires can increase the wear on them, along with the consumption of fuel. Having too much tire pressure can reduce the traction. To make sure you have the correct amount of air pressure for your vehicle, you can usually find the information on the side of the driver’s door or inside the glove box. Also, inspect the treads on your tires and replace any that look too worn.
When starting your vehicle in cold weather, you’ll want your car to idle for a few seconds before hitting the road. By doing so, you are allowing proper oil flow and lubrication. However, you don’t want your engine to idle for too long either as it will waste fuel and it does not warm drivetrain components. After you’ve allowed your vehicle to idle for a short amount of time, drive easily for a few miles to allow proper warm-up.
Icy windows and locks
No one likes waking up in the morning to see there windshield and windows completely icy. As such, always keep an ice scraper in your vehicle. Don’t forget to check your wipers and defrosters as well to make sure they’re working correctly. As for door locks, deicers can be useful as well as heated keys when locks are frozen.
Stock the trunk
It’s better to be safe than sorry. It is always smart to keep useful items in the trunk of your vehicle such as a small shovel just incase you have dig your self out of snow. A bag of sand is also useful as it adds traction with it’s weight. You can also use it on ice or snow to improve traction. Other useful items to keep in the trunk are extra blankets, gloves and hats in case you need them to warm up.
Fueling Your Vehicle
While driving your vehicle, you are building up static electricity in your body as your clothes rub together and against the seat. During cold weather, the charge has no where to go as opposed to the summer when there is enough moisture in the air to dissipate the charge. When getting out of your vehicle at the pump, you have the electrostatic charge built up. You’ll want to discharge your body before you begin to fuel up. There have been rare circumstances when a small electrostatic shock at the pump has ignited a fire.
You can discharge your body by touching the metal frame of your car door after getting out of the vehicle. The metal will conduct the charge away from you safely. Do not go back in the vehicle as you are fueling up as you will build up the electrostatic charge again.
We hope these tips have been useful for your winter driving. Here are some other winter safety driving tips from AAA that are useful as well. Stay safe out there!