Safe Winter Driving

          Mother Nature is giving us a taste of winter and a reminder that we need to prepare for our long and sometimes severe winters.

          Preparing for winter driving is something that we should do for ourselves and our vehicles. Let’s talk about our vehicles first. Even if you routinely have your vehicle serviced at a dealership or other auto service shop there are a few simple things you can do. Check your tires. If you have a pressure tester, manually check each tire and make sure they are at the recommended pressure.

Recommended tire pressure can usually be found on a sticker on the driver’s door or door post. If it’s not there, check the owner’s manual. If your owner’s manual is missing, look it up online or have someone else do it for you. Many newer vehicles have tire pressure sensors in each tire which will warn you about low tire pressures. One of my vehicles will give me the pressure reading for each individual tire, the other only warns me that one is low. It’s still a good idea to manually check the accuracy of the reading for each sensor.

          Visually inspect your tires for excessive or uneven wear and for any cuts or scrapes in the sidewalls. Worn, damaged, or improperly inflated tires can severely affect the handling of your vehicle in poor driving conditions. Don’t forget to check your spare tire, jack, and lug wrenches too.

          Visually check under the hood for things like coolant levels, frayed fan belts, and windshield washer fluid levels. If you need to add washer fluid make sure it’s fluid intended for use in below-zero temperatures. You may even want to contact the shop which last serviced your vehicle and ask what type of washer fluid they put in.  If necessary, use your washers to decrease the fluid levels in the reservoir so you can add a cold-weather fluid. Intentionally or accidentally turning on your wiper when driving in cold conditions with summer washer fluid can mean instant ice covering your windshield. Not what you want to happen when you are driving!

          In these days of cell phones, people tend to overlook survival kits. We are used to being able to call for help and have someone come to our rescue very quickly. In a winter storm that may not always happen. Having a warm blanket, an extra flashlight, and a few snack bars can make a long wait for help a much less stressful experience. In a major storm with roads blocked or closed a few simple items can be lifesavers. It may seem silly to tell you but don’t forget a good jacket, gloves, and cap either. I’ve stopped to help stranded motorists many times over the years and found individuals with light summer clothes and no coat, cap, or gloves.

          Regardless of how you are prepared, Stay With Your Vehicle! Trying to walk for help lowers your chances of survival in a winter storm.