Tips For Trips - What You Should Do Before Hitting the Road This Winter
Snow, ice and sleet all have their own set of challenges. Take extra precautions such as these to make sure you and your car are winter-ready.
Check windshield wiper blades to make sure they work properly. In some areas, snow blades are an effective alternative to conventional wiper blades. Have your mechanic test the anti-freeze/coolant to provide the correct level of protection required in your driving area.
Keep your gas tank at least half full. The extra volume can help reduce moisture problems within your fuel system. It also adds helpful weight to your vehicle.
In rear–wheel drive vehicles, extra weight in the trunk or truck bed may be helpful. Use care – unsecured weight can shift while you are moving or if you have to stop suddenly. Bags of sand can provide weight, and if sprinkled on the ice, sand helps provide traction.
Before you leave your driveway, scrape the ice and snow from every window and the exterior rear view mirrors, not just a small patch on the windshield.
Don’t forget to remove snow from headlights and brake lights. Try to remove ice and snow from your shoes before getting in your vehicle. As they melt, they create moisture build-up, causing windows to fog on the inside. You can reduce this fogging by turning the air recirculation switch to the OFF position. This brings in drier, fresh air. You can also run your air conditioner. It can serve as a dehumidifier for a few minutes.
Keep your vehicle stocked with simple emergency equipment in case you do get stalled or have an accident. Consider keeping items like a blanket or extra clothes, a rope for towing, bottled water, granola bars, and a bag of sand or kitty litter for traction.
Warming up a car prior to travel is a common practice, but most engines really don’t need more than a minute or more to circulate oil to all internal parts. Check your vehicle owner’s manual for information about your engine.
Avoid large bulky boots, gloves and coats, and never drive in ski boots.
Use Your Senses
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that each year, consumers spend a total of $5 billion on vehicle accidents caused by mechanical failure. Besides the cost, there's another downside to breakdowns - they're dangerous. An engine problem while driving can cause an accident or leave you stuck on the side of a hazardous road.
Your senses can tell you a lot about the condition of your vehicle's engine systems and parts. Following these guidelines may enable you to prevent a dangerous breakdown by catching potential problems early.
Sights Take a look in, around, and under your vehicle:
Make sure that brake lights, turn signals, headlights, and rear lights are working properly. Also check the inside dashboard lights, the dome light, and the glove box light.
Look at the top and side of the battery. If you see a build-up of dirt, clean it with a rag. A dirty battery can drain a few amps of electricity.
Check belts on the inside for cracks. If cracks are deep, the belt may be in danger of breaking soon and should be replaced.