Preparing your car for winter is an easy way to reduce the possibility that you'll become stuck or stranded when wicked weather strikes. It may also be the key to survival should the weather become too severe for safe driving. There are two primary considerations when preparing a car for winter: ensure it is in proper working order for cold, snowy, icy weather, and equip the vehicle with the appropriate gear to help ease the wait for help should it be rendered inoperable.
Make Sure the Car is Ready for Winter
Before the season changes and cold weather arrives, you should get your car ready for winter. Install tires with tread that is deep enough to provide traction in snow and rain. When living in an area where snowstorms are common, installing a complete set of four snow tires is advisable. Consider carrying chains in regions where chain requirements are more likely to strand you than the weather itself.
To ensure maximum outward visibility, install new wiper blades, preferably the kind designed to easily clear slush, salt, and other types of winter grit. Change the washer fluid to the type designed to remain fluid in sub-zero temperatures, and make sure washer jets are clear and operational. Also check the rear window defroster, and carry a snowbrush and ice scraper in the vehicle.
Ensuring that other motorists can see your vehicle is also critical. Make sure all of your lights work, and then use them, especially on gray days with wet roads and lots of water spray. Your car can virtually disappear in such conditions.
Finally, if it's been a few years since you bought a new battery, get a new one. Additionally, carry jumper cables and hope that a good Samaritan will stop to assist you should your battery need recharging. Have the radiator and hoses checked, too, and consider flushing and replacing the old anti-freeze.
Make Sure You are Ready to Wait for Help
Although your car may be prepared for winter driving, the possibility that you might get stuck still exists. If you have no choice but to travel in a snowstorm, or immediately following one, make sure you have the proper supplies to help you survive in the event that you become stranded and need to wait for help.
First, try to keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. While it is not smart to run the engine and heater if you bury the car into a snowdrift due to possible carbon monoxide poisoning, it is entirely possible that you might be forced to spend hours in the vehicle waiting out a road closure. In that case, you'll want the heater running. If, however, you are running low on fuel, start the vehicle and let it run just long enough to heat the cabin, then shut it off to conserve fuel.
It's also a good idea to have a couple of blankets, old jackets, and some boots aboard to help you and any passengers stay warm. Non-perishable food items can come in handy, too, along with road flares and matches to ignite their wicks. And, of course, you'll always want to have bottled water on hand.
The best advice about winter driving is to just stay home when the weather outside is frightful.
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- Nature & Environment