Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maintaining Your Vehicle During Winter Driving Conditions

Winter driving is often feared by many because of the increased dangers associated with changing weather conditions and increased traffic on the roads associated with holiday driving. Preparing both yourself and your vehicle for winter driving can not only keep you safe but can also save you money.
Preparing your vehicle for winter driving can help you avoid costly repairs and breakdowns that may leave you stranded on the side of the road in freezing temperatures. Taking a few minutes to do a quick visual inspection of your vehicle prior to driving can help you find and prevent things that can lead to troubles along the way.
Taking time to perform some preventative maintenance not only prepares your car for winter driving but increases the life of your vehicle.
Here are some preventative maintenance tips to help you prepare your vehicle for winter driving:
  1. Inspect your antifreeze while your engine is cold. This can be done quickly with an inexpensive antifreeze tester by even the novice driver. It takes only seconds to remove the radiator cap and perform the test. Ensuring you have adequate levels of antifreeze can prevent your engine from freezing and causing damage.
  2. Visually inspect all lights. Making sure your headlights, signal lights, brake lights and park lights are operating is essential to being seen on the road, especially if it is snowing. The more visible you are to other drivers the better.
  3. Visually inspect your tires. Inspecting both the tread and tire pressure regularly is crucial to safe winter driving where good traction on both snow and ice is required.
  4. Check your wiper blades. During winter driving it is more likely your windshield will become obscured by snow and salt as you drive. Having your wiper blades in top working condition means increased visibility while you drive.
  5. Visually inspect your engine's belt and hoses. Cracked or worn belts and hoses are likely to break during cold temperatures associated with winter driving. Ensuring these are in good condition prior to driving will reduce the likelihood of a breakdown associated with a failure in one of these components.
  6. Have your oil changed regularly. Winter means more cold starts for your engine. Having both clean motor oil and a clean oil filter will reduce wear on your engine during those cold morning starts. This will increase the life of your engine.
  7. Have your battery inspected. Cold weather makes your battery work harder and nothing is worst than having a dead battery during those cold winter days. Ensure your battery and charging system are functioning correctly by having it inspected.
  8. Have your brakes inspected. Stopping on icy or snow covered roads is often difficult and it is important to ensure your brakes are working properly. Having your brakes inspected and replaced when required will provide you with more braking power when needed during those slippery days of winter.
While these preventative maintenance tips will give you the advantage during winter driving, it is always important to be prepared for the worst. Invest in a roadside emergency kit that includes a flashlight with fresh batteries, a blanket, energy bars, bottled water, jumper cables, flares and a first aid kit.
The dangers associated with winter driving can be minimized by following these tips.

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