In many parts of the country, where unusually warm weather has prevailed, winter may seem far away. But colder weather, snow and ice will be coming, even if belated, and the experts at Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, a national brand that services virtually any make and model vehicle, encourage car owners to prepare now for winter driving.
The experts at Cottman offer some simple tips to keep your car running smoothly and safely during the winter months ahead.
“Don’t neglect your tires,” says Randy Wright President of Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care. “Be sure your tires are safe, with good tread, and keep them properly inflated.” As temperatures dip, tires lose about a pound of pressure for every ten-degree drop. Randy also recommends using all-season tires with good tread, rather than so-called high-performance tires that don’t perform well in heavy rain and snow.
It’s a good idea to keep extra salt or sand in the car, since even the best tires can lose traction on an icy incline. Wright suggests keeping a piece of old carpeting in the trunk. If you get stuck on ice, place the carpet in front of the drive wheels to give the tires something to grab onto to help get the car moving.
After traction, visibility is a crucial driving issue, especially in winter weather. It’s important to keep windows clear. Replace wiper blades with winter-style blades, refill the washer fluid and keep spare fluid in the car. Also, remember to wipe headlights and tail lights before you drive, since ice, remnants of snow and dried dirt from messy roads can substantially diminish forward visibility and make it difficult for cars behind to see you.
Weak or dead batteries are another major winter driving problem. Cottman says a simple load test can indicate whether your battery has enough power for cold-weather starts. It’s also a good idea to have the battery terminals cleaned to allow full power to flow from the battery to the starter.
Be sure to have your anti-freeze checked before freezing temperatures arrive. Anti-freeze protects water in the radiator and engine block from freezing and cracking, which could lead to costly repairs.
Drivers should take a tip from the Boy Scout motto – Be prepared. Small things like keeping lock de-icer in your coat or purse can help keep you from getting locked out. Having extra sweaters and blankets in the car can keep you warm if you get stranded and have to wait in freezing cold until help arrives. Flares can help warn other drivers if you get stuck and they can also draw the attention of police to help you. Be sure your cell phone is fully charged so you can call for help.
Traffic safety experts say not to speed and to drive extra carefully in winter weather. Be sure to slow down on curves and watch for black ice, which can accumulate on roadways and especially on bridges.
The Cottman experts encourage drivers to check their owner’s manual to see what specific steps are recommended for winter care for their car.
“To keep your car running safely and smoothly on tough winter days, some basic advance planning and extra driving caution are easy steps to take,” Cottman’s Wright says.