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5 Ways to Prepare for Winter Driving

Winter driving brings on all the elements, including cold temperatures, snowy roads, and black ice, which make driving demanding. Besides being an annoyance, driving in inclement weather can sometimes be dangerous even for self-assured drivers who have years of driving experience.

Driving maneuvers normally taken for granted, such as starting, stopping and turning can become challenging if you have not properly prepared your vehicle for winter weather.

Here are some tips for getting your vehicle for winter driving.

 Vehicle Traction

Replace tires that have low treads because foul weather and unpredictable wintry weather will make driving even the shortest destination hazardous. You need good tire traction to keep your vehicle on the road. If you are unsure about the tread wear, take the vehicle in and have an expert check the condition. Drivers who live in cold regions should consider purchasing winter tires or carry snow chains in their vehicle.

Tire Pressure

Check your tire pressure a minimum of once a month to ensure proper inflation. The temperature change causes a loss of tire pressure. Not only is tire pressure important for the safe operation of your vehicle, it affects driving performance and fuel mileage.  Check the driver’s side door located or glove compartment placard or refer to the vehicle manual to find out the manufacturer’s recommendations tire pressure.

Do not overinflate the tires, which can cause irregular and premature tire wear. Under-inflated tires reduce the vehicle’s gas efficiency.

Keep the Vehicle Clean

Winter driving means severe conditions and corrosive ice, snow, salt, slush and freezing rain which attack your car. To preserve your vehicle’s condition and value, wash your car frequently. Regular cleaning protects the finish and undercarriage from the dirt and chemicals. Use high quality cleaners and waxes on the exterior and interior of the vehicle.  Clean the carpet to remove dirt and winter salt. Cover carpet with a protective spray. Make it a habit to clean your vehicle after a heavy snowfall.

Oil Change

The right motor oil minimizes winter wear and tear on the vehicle’s engine. Read the car manufacturer’s manual to determine the grade of motor oil it recommends or consult a professional for advice. In harsh winter climates, base oil may not have the additives to clean away engine build-up, assure proper flow at low temperatures, or remove rust and corrosion.  Invest in a premium oil product to ensure the engine runs efficiently and effectively. High quality oil helps extend the engine life.

Winter Driving Kit

Besides the item outlines above, have an overall vehicle maintenance check of the hoses, belts lights, brakes, wipers and heater/defroster. Do not allow the gas tank to fall below half a tank. Make sure you have the following winter travel gear:

  • Ice scraper/snowbrush
  • Jumper cables
  •  Road flares
  • Flashlight/batteries

Your personal emergency items should include water, blanket, gloves, boots, snacks, and a first-aid kit.