Five Winter Safe Driving Tips

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

There’s cold weather hitting most of the country over the last few weeks, yet according to the Car Care Council more than 70 % of motorists don’t prepare their cars for winter weather. Here are some tips that will help:

Take Care of Your Battery

Winter temperatures cause a car’s electrical system to work harder, particularly with the increased power demands of heater, defroster and wipers. Cold temps can reduce a vehicle’s battery power by up to 50 percent. Some car batteries typically last 3-5 years, so it’s a good idea to keep track of the battery’s age. Yet that is not the experience of every car and battery: The battery management systems in my wife’s former car, a 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLK produced a 10-year life from the original factory battery. Tip: Battery cables and clamps should be checked regularly for fraying or corrosion. The tried and true method for cleaning them is to use baking soda, water and a toothbrush.

Keep and Eye on Your Fluids

  • Antifreeze: Drivers will want to keep their antifreeze/coolant mix at the appropriate levels to prevent the engine from freezing and to reduce corrosion. A 50/50 mix will keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as minus 34 degrees.
  • Gas: Keep your gas tanks at least half full during the winter months. This will decrease the chances of moisture from condensation freezing and blocking the flow of gas in the fuel lines.

Check Your Tires

Winter temps cause the air in tires to contract and drop in pressure. Deflated tires reduce the tread and the traction of the car, which can increase the chances of sliding on icy patches. With more recent cars, TPMS will warn you about low pressures but take care of the problem when it lights up your dashboard to prevent sliding on the ice. Factoid: Having properly inflated tires can also save on gas mileage by as much as three percent.

Clean Your Car to See the Road

Many people are in such a rush to get to where they are going that they don’t take the time to clear their windshield. Make sure wiper blades are in proper working order and free of cracking or deteriorating and check wiper fluid levels. Allow time for condensation to clear from the entire windshield before heading out on the road.

Create a Winter Weather Kit

Keep an emergency kit inside your car that includes a flashlight, jumper cables, cell phone charger, ice scrapper, snow brush, blanket, bottled water and dry food snacks. Keep a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter to spread on the ground to gain better traction on icy patches.

  Thanks to Milex Complete Auto Care/Mr. Transmission for these tips.