The following tips can be used as helpful reminders to stay safe and to keep your vehicle in good working condition this winter. Here is how to winterize your car during the cold months:
1. Have a full gas tank. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing and if you become stranded or stuck you will have sustainable heat for several hours.
2. Service your car. Get an oil change, replace your windshield wiper blades, fill up your washer reservoir with washer fluid not water, check the battery, make sure all connections and wires are free of corrosion and tie ups, check all belts and hoses for general wear and tear, add antifreeze / coolant, and check tire pressure.
3. Consider putting on snow tires. Snow tires improve snow traction. Snow tires are designed to withstand icy and snowy roads especially when temperatures drop and they keep better tread grip while driving in such conditions.
4. Engage four-wheel drive. Check your four-wheel-drive system and ensure it engages and disengages easily. Teach other family members how to utilize it and do not be afraid to use the all / full time mode when road conditions are at their worst.
5. What to do if stranded. If you get stuck and you are all alone here are a few suggestions on what to do:
- do not wander away from your car unless you are absolutely familiar with your location
- light 2 flares at the end of your vehicle to call attention to your dilemma
- put on extra clothes and stay warm under a blanket
- if you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10-15 minutes for each hour you wait for help
- crack open one of the windows to prevent the car from freezing shut
- keep hydrated and nourished for the time you are alone
6. Always have your emergency kit stored in the car. Have your ready-to-use emergency kit stored in the car, either in the trunk or backseat. The following list provides essential items that should be in your kit:
- warm blanket, cotton towel and paper towel
- extra boots, gloves, scarf, hat and other warm clothes
- water and food including granola bars, nuts, seeds, chocolate bars, crackers, etc.
- an ice scraper, small shovel and flashlight
- windshield washer fluid and new wipers
- flares, jumper cables, a tool kit
- tire chains, a tire gauge, a spare tire with air in it and tire-changing equipment
- first-aid kit with all necessary components
- bag of sand, salt, non-clumping kitty litter (to provide additional traction)