Tips for Winter Driving & Vehicle Maintenance
Winter is upon us. There’s no more avoiding it. As the temperature drops and snow level rises, there are important measures to be taken to help prevent costly vehicle repairs or worse. Unless you live in an area without snow, winter can be hard on your cars. With the right steps in place, it’s possible to get out of the winter season without damage to your vehicle or your wallet.
VEHICLE MAINTENANCE TIPS FOR WINTER DRIVING
To properly prepare for the winter months, make sure your car is running properly. Take it to your local auto service station and get it looked over for anything that might act up during the upcoming cold temps.
- Check the radiator coolant level and consistency
- Check brakes and turn signals (both lights and functionality)
- Check tire pressure and wear (miniumum tire tread is 6/32″ for adequate traction) - Click here for new tires in Pittsburgh
- Replace wiper blades with winter or all-season blade
- Apply water-shedding material such as Rain-X to the outside of windows
- Refer to your vehicle’s manual to see if a lighter grade of oil is recommended for winter driving
Driving in snow and icy conditions can be the most dangerous time on the road. It’s important to be prepared for delays and obstructions in the road. Some tips for winter driving are:
- Pay attention to local weather reports on the radio
- Allow for extra driving time due to traffic delays and poor road conditions.
- Familiarize yourself with how your vehicle handles snow and ice. Front-wheel drive cars generally handle winter conditions better than rear-wheel vehicles.
- Properly clear snow and ice from your windows and lights prior to driving.
- If your windshield wipers are on, turn on your headlights. This is becoming a law across the country to improve visibility in inclement weather.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full during the colder months to prevent your fuel lines from freezing.
- Park your vehicle facing east so that the windshield is defrosted by morning.
- Pull the windshield wipers outward away from the glass when parking your car overnight.
- Leave ample stopping time between your car and the one in front of you while driving in the winter.
- Do not pump your brakes if your vehicle is equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).
- It’s a good idea to tell people where you’re going and when you’re departing while driving in winter conditions on long road trips.
- Use caution while driving across bridges and overpasses during freezing temperatures.
ITEMS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR DURING THE WINTER
One thing I’ve learned while living in Pittsburgh is the weather can be very unpredictable and it’s a good idea to always be prepared. Certain items should be kept in your vehicle in case of inclement winter weather or breaking down.
- A blanket or sleeping bag
- A powerful battery-powered flashlight with extra batteries
- A set of jumper cables
- Emergency roadside kit with flares and warning triangles
- An extra set of warm winter clothing
- A jug of water
- Snow brush and ice scraper
- Non-perishable food items such as granola bars, nuts, peanut butter, etc.
- Sand or non-clumping car litter for tire traction in snow and ice
- A cell phone and car charger
- A steel shovel
- At least 20 feet of rope