Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter Travel

Predictions of a milder than normal winter have proven false, and we have likely not seen the worst of what Old Man Winter has to offer, so winterizing your car is still a good idea.

AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair warns, “It can be a life and death situation when you’re stuck by the side of the road. It’s more than just inconvenient. When it’s icy, snowy and cold, you can wind up being possibly struck by another vehicle; you might wind up being stranded and the cold affecting you.”

When the roads become treacherous with snow and ice, trips that should only take a few minutes can leave you stranded on the roadside for hours, so be sure to keep plenty of gas in your fuel tank at all times.  In addition to making sure you have enough fuel to get you there and back, this can also help to prevent gas line freeze-ups in extremely cold temperatures.

Visibility can be severely limited when driving in snow and ice and an improperly maintained windshield wiper and washer system can make the problem even worse.

During warmer months, many people fill their windshield washer reservoirs with plain tap water which can freeze solid in the winter.  Instead of water, fill your reservoir with freeze resistant windshield washer fluid, and be sure to check your windshield wipers to ensure they’re in good condition.

Salt, sand and sludge tend to build up on headlights during the winter months and can reduce their effectiveness by as much as 90 percent.  Frequent cleaning of all exterior lighting, including headlights, brake lights and turn indicators will make it easier for you to see and be seen by other motorists.

If you live in areas that are prone to snow and ice storms, you should replace your all-season tires with snow tires.  Even if you live in areas where significant accumulations or snow and ice are rare, be sure to check your tires to make sure they have sufficient tread life left for the season.  You should also check for proper inflation.  Over- or under-inflated tires can be extremely dangerous when driving on slippery surfaces.

Unfortunately, even properly maintained vehicles can become stranded or become involved in an accident, so it’s a good idea to prepare for all eventualities but packing an emergency travel kit in your trunk or cargo area.

Your emergency travel kit should include:

  • Potable water
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • A first aid kit
  • Emergency flares
  • Flashlight
  • Battery operated weather radio
  • Spare batteries
  • Small shovel
  • Heavy blanket or sleeping bag
  • Cell phone charger
  • Jumper cables
  • Bag of kitty litter, rock salt or course sand
  • Extra cold weather clothing, including insulated socks
  • Towing strap or rope
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