Car Travel Safety

If you live in our part of the country, winter travel can be a death defying endeavor, whether it be to Grandma's house across the state or running to the grocery store across the street.

What should every motorist have in their vehicle to protect themselves and their passengers while out in cold and snowy weather? According to AAA, this is how we should prepare.

  1. Have your battery and charging system tested by a professional to ensure cold weather starts.
  2. Inspect drive belts for cracking and fraying.
  3. Check the condition of battery cables and terminals. Make sure connections are secure and free of corrosion.
  4. In areas with heavy winter weather, changing to snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires will work well in light to moderate snow conditions, providing they have adequate tread depth. If any tire has less than 3/32-inches of tread, it should be replaced. Uneven wear on the tires can indicate alignment, suspension or wheel balance problems that should be addressed to prevent further damage to the tires.
  5. Check tire pressure more frequently during winter months. As the temperature drops, so will the pressures in the tires—typically 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be found on a sticker located on the driver’s side door jamb. And, don’t forget to check the spare.
  6. Check the engine’s air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if the light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.
  7. Check the coolant level when the engine is cold. If the coolant level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. The level of antifreeze protection can be checked with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store.
  8. Check the operation of all headlights, taillights, emergency flashers, turn signals, brake lights and back-up lights. Replace any burnt out bulbs.
  9. Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace blades that leave streaks or miss spots. In areas with snowy conditions, consider installing winter wiper blades that wrap the blade in a rubber boot to prevent ice and snow buildup that can prevent good contact between the rubber blade and the glass.
  10. Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a cleaning solution that has antifreeze components for cold weather use.
  11. Have brakes inspected by a certified technician to ensure all components are in good working order.
  12. Check all fluids to ensure they are at or above the minimum safe levels.
  13. Update the car’s emergency kit for winter weather. The kit should include:
  • Bag of abrasive material (salt, sand, cat litter) or traction mats.
  • Snonw shovel.
  • Snow brush.
  • Flashlight with extra bateries.
  • Window washer solvent.
  • Ice scraper.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Gloves, hats, and blankets.
  • Flares or triangles.
  • Water and non-perishable snacks.
  • Extra clothes.
  • First aid kit.
  • Tool kit.
  • Cell phone

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  • by Christine Streich
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