Ready for the Roads – Winter driving safety begins with assessing vehicle readiness

This winter’s record breaking weather demands drivers to ready for safe traveling.

As the icey weather continues, taking care of your vehicle becomes increasingly important.  Many accidents happen in the harsh conditions that occur around this time of year, and taking care of your car can help prevent this from happening in the future.

“Making sure the general maintenance is up to par on your car [is] what keeps you from those cold weather problems,” Greg Mahlstedt from Tuffy Tire and Auto Service said. “The liquid stuff on the roads [in the winter] just eats the cars alive. I highly suggest washing the cars once a week.”

Including keeping the vehicles clean, one of the general maintenance actions one can do according to the Tuffy website is checking your exhaust pipe and making sure it is clear of snow.  This can help to prevent carbon monoxide from collecting inside the vehicle and makes all drives safer for everyone.

The other two tips on how to keep the vehicle in top shape are checking tire pressure and keeping the battery up, Mahlstedt said. Tire pressure is very likely to drop in the winter season because of the cold air, and low pressure can lead to wear on the tires and tread separation according to The Newswheel in the article “How to Take Care of Your Car in Winter.” 

Both of these events can lead to accidents.  If you are wondering if a change in tires is needed due to the lack of tread, a way to check is by holding a penny in the treads of your tires. If you can see Lincoln’s head on the penny, your treads are too worn, and you are due for new tires.

Cold temperatures reduce a battery’s cranking power, which determines how much power you have to start the car.  According to Jon Linkov in the article “Winter Car Care Tips: Keep Your Vehicle in Peak Condition During Frigid Weather,” to check a conventional battery, you remove the plastic caps on the top and check the fluid level, and on maintenance-free batteries check the window on the top of the battery to see if it shows the battery is fully charged. 

 If the battery looks like it is unable to do its job, you can have it checked at a service station, auto parts store or repair shop, and it may just need to be charged, but another option is to replace the battery if it is completely dead.

Other car care tips according to Linkov are replacing windshield wipers, clearing off the car and checking the oil.

Replacing windshield wipers can be important for having good visibility while driving, and it is recommended that they be replaced every six months to a year or when a difference in visibility is noticed.  If replacing the wiper blades cannot be done at the time, cleaning the rubber edge of the blade with a paper towel and glass cleaner is a good way to temporarily improve the effectiveness of the wipers.

Clearing off the car before leaving is imperative to everyone’s safety. Snow can block the windows, lights, windshield wipers and license plates. This can prevent visibility and lights when needed. License plates also need to be visible and easy to read.

Motor oil thickens in the cold weather, and this makes it harder for the engine to turn over.  Getting the oil changed in your car can help ensure that the engine can work to the best of its ability.

“Be careful. Just slow down and take your time. That’s how [everyone] stays safe,” Mahlstedt said.

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Check out this week’s episode for another feature of on winter driving safety.

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