A Guide for Winterizing Your Vehicle and Cold Weather Safety

January 15, 2016

Brace yourselves – it’s officially Winter.

Before we’re blanketed in a winter wonderland, make sure you have the following items checked on your vehicle.

Replace the windshield wiper blades. Every six months is considered an ideal replacement schedule. Use a high quality windshield washer fluid rated for cold weather, preferably with a de-icing solvent infused.

Check your battery. Cold weather is especially hard on batteries. Look for signs of corrosion or fraying around the clamps. The temperatures don’t take it easy on your starter either.

Make sure heaters and defrosters work properly. Clear glass keeps your field of vision clear and proper heat keeps your body from shivering and unable to steer.

Clean, flush or replace antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule, this should be done every two years.

Change your oil. Check the owner’s manual to find the ideal type of oil you should use. The recommended viscosity — or thickness — of the oil greatly affects your engine’s performance during the colder months.

Keep your gas tank at least half full during winter. The cold and shifting temperatures can lead to condensation that will drain into your fuel lines and freeze, blocking the flow of gas or damaging your fuel lines.

Check your headlights – clean, clear, bright. Brake, reverse, and interior lights.

Wash, seal, and wax your car – protects against salt

Check your tire pressure once a week, including your spare tire. Inspect your tires’ tread and make sure it can handle any adverse conditions.

Inspect your windshield for any cracks as they can worsen in cold weather.

Check for leaks in your exhaust system and be sure to clear any snow or debris from the pipe.

Get a brake inspection. The braking system is the most important safety feature, so if you feel anything less than a smooth stop when breaking, get them checked out.

If you find yourself skidding while driving in icy conditions, don’t pump or slam on your breaks. Take your foot off the pedal and steer into the direction of the skid until you straighten out and regain control.

Before you leave for work in the morning, here are some tips to combat the bitter freeze:  

To prevent frozen locks, try placing a magnet over the lock overnight to prevent the door lock from freezing.

You can also try dipping your key in Vaseline or petroleum jelly and turning the lock back and forth to distribute it. Save some in the event of chapped lips if this method takes a while.

De-icer spray attached to your keychain is also a handy remedy.

If you find your power windows are stuck during the icy months, do not continue pushing the button to get it to move. You could damage the window’s motor, resulting in an expensive repair bill. Worse – you may be unable to roll the window back up.

For frozen doors, some sites suggest using Pam cooking spray, but you could wind up with ugly stains on your vehicle’s interior or your clothing.

Try finding the least frozen door or hatch of your vehicle first or breaking the ice with the palms of your hands. Or use a hair dryer to melt the ice instead.

Whatever you do, DO NOT throw hot water on any portion of your frozen vehicle!

Also – don’t try that weird vinegar/salt solution that’s been going around on Pinterest. Vinegar’s freezing point is only 28° – 4 degrees lower than water. You’ll just make your car smell like a pickle.

Emergency Prep

Drivers should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and any needed medication.

Lastly, slow down.

The bitter winds and icy blasts bring their own brand of danger and unpredictability. The best way to prepare for the winter months is to give yourself an extra 20–30 minutes before you need to go somewhere.

You can use that extra time to review your insurance policy for accidental or comprehensive damage coverage. Fishtailing, running into a snow bank, potholes, or fallen branches can lead to costly out-of-pocket expenses if you only have liability coverage on your vehicle.

Call The Ross Maghan Agency today to review your personal auto insurance policy today. Let our warm and friendly service keep your protected from risk this winter.

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