With the winter months quickly approaching, driving becomes more hazardous and risky as the roads are slick.
These tips will keep you (and others!) safe on the roads, no matter what Mother Nature has in store for you.
Check Your Tires
As the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tires. Less tire pressure can result in poor road safety and can wreak havoc on your breaking abilities. It is recommended to check your tire pressure at least once a month, and you may even decide to switch to winter tires.
Regardless of whether or not you change your tires to winter or all-weather tires, check the tread on your tires. This can be easily done by doing the “penny test.” Hold a penny between your thumb and finger so that Lincoln’s head is showing. Place the top of Lincoln’s head pointing down into one of the grooves of the tire’s tread. If any part of Lincoln’s head is obscured by the tread, you have a safe amount of tread, however, if you can see Lincoln’s whole head, it’s time to replace your tires.
Practice Safe Breaking and Accelerating
Giving yourself plenty of space between the car in front of you will allow you ample breaking time, which can help avoid spinning on slick roads. When accelerating, practice going slowly and working up to a safe cruising speed. If you try to break or accelerate too quickly, your tires will spin because it won’t have enough traction on the slick roads.
If you find your tires spinning, release the accelerator until you regain traction. It does help to remove your foot from the brake and accelerator and to steer in the direction you want to go. Do not slam on the break or accelerator until you have regained control of the vehicle. Remaining calm in a situation like this can help prevent accidents.
Maintain Your Vehicle’s Engine and Battery
As temperatures drop, your vehicle’s oil gets thicker, which puts strain on your car’s battery (it requires more power). This can be particularly strenuous on batteries that are 3+ years old. If you don’t know when your battery was last replaced, pop your hood and look at the battery – there will be a date on the casing.
Colder weather causes oil breakdown faster than your area’s “normal” temperature range, so you should get your oil changed more frequently in the colder months. Before the first frost, schedule an oil change to start the season with fresh oil. Keep an eye on it if you have an especially harsh winter.
Create a Winter Emergency Kit
In the event that your car does break down during the colder months, it helps to be prepared. Keep an emergency kit in your trunk in a plastic bin so you have the essentials in case you get caught in a bad situation. It is recommended to have these items:
- Snow Shovel and Ice Scraper
- Warning Flares
- A bag of sand or kitty litter for traction
- Flashlight (crank handle, or have backup batteries)
- Extra gloves, hat, scarves
- Hand warmers
- First-Aid Kit – bandaids, antiseptic ointment, Ace bandage, etc.
- Non-perishable foods – granola bars, beef jerky, bottles of water
Mother Nature has a way of unexpectedly throwing bad weather our way, so always be prepared for snow, ice, sleet, and any emergency situation on winter roads.