Driving Tips: How To Drive In Winter Conditions

The hazards of winter driving, which can be decreased by taking a precautionary measures beforehand. Information for ice, rain and other adverse situations.

When the cold weather arrives, especially in the Northwest and Northeast, this is always a good time to check over vehicles to ensure and to avoid problems that may occur at the most inconvenient time. For instance, these problems may occur on that first cold wintry morning when the car won't start because of a weak battery. Or after a long hard day at work, when leaving work, it's dark and the cold wind is blowing, and the snow is falling, and the roads are getting icier with every passing minute, making the ride home possibly a long and treacherous one. And if the car won't start this only adds to the frustration. But by taking a few preventive measures beforehand, the above scenario can hopefully be avoided.

1. Before winter sets in it would be a good time to have a general tune up done especially of the car's engine. This will ensure that such items as the ignition, the carburetor, fan belts, are in good working order and won't necessarily present any problems later on.

2. While having this done, it would be a good thing to have the battery checked to see if perhaps a new one is needed.

3. Also a good time to have spark plugs checked, and replaced with new ones if that is necessary. Checking cables to these plugs also will ensure they, too, are in good working order.

4. Replacing the air and fuel filters again will ensure that these won't present a problem later on.

5. If this hasn't been done, also replacing or adding more antifreeze to the cooling system. Depending on how long the antifreeze has been in the cooling system, it might be a good idea to drain the old fluid, and then replace it with a mixture of antifreeze and water.



6. Snow tires will be required in the cold climate areas. If the vehicle is front wheel drive, then front snow tires will be needed. If the vehicle is rear wheel drive, then mount the snow tires at the rear. Ensure they are inflated to manufacturer's specification. Or have chains put on in those areas that are known for their heavy snowfalls.

7. Windshield washer fluid is a must especially during the winter driving months. Check periodically to ensure that there is enough inside the reservoir. Doing this often will alleviate running out of this fluid when you need it the most, in sloppy weather when windshields are splattered with mud, making driving all that more difficult.

8. It is a good idea to keep certain supplies inside the trunk of the vehicle on hand, which would be devoted to winter driving. These will come in handy whenever forced to drive through snowbound unplowed roads where the possibility of getting stuck is much greater. The items recommended are sand or even cat litter for gaining traction beneath the tires on icy roads. A medium shovel to help dig oneself out in case of getting stuck in a deep snow drift. A supply of nonperishable foods, such as box of crackers, canned good, and a can opener and a few eating utensils in case the roads do become impassable and there is no quick rescue.

9. Also, it is good to have on hand warm blankets, flashlights, and extra batteries, as well as a cigarette lighter or matches. The matches should be kept inside a metal container to keep them dry. One use of the matches might be to thaw out any locks that may become frozen. Although by lubricating the cylinders inside a lock with graphite (found in auto supply stores) will help prevent these locks from becoming frozen in the first place.

10. There is nothing more frustrating than windshield wipers that don't work properly when cleaning off the windshield. Ensure these are working properly, and if they are too worn to do their job, then replace them with new blades.

11. Ensuring the windshield defroster as well as the rear window defogger/deicer if present is all working properly will help make driving in bad weather conditions not only safe but also less frustrating.

By taking the above precautionary measures before the winter sets in, you will help alleviate most of the foreseeable problems down the line. Also, doing this will help make winter driving not only safer for everyone on the road, but also a little less stressful for all those involved.

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