Prepare Your Vehicle and Yourself for Winter
November 15, 2022
‘Tis the season for those in many parts of the country to begin thinking about Old Man Winter and his effect on vehicles and drivers alike.
Winterize Vehicles Before Temperatures Drop
Cold temperatures make it difficult for engines to work correctly, snow limits tire traction and salt causes rust on exterior paint. It is important to protect your car or truck during the winter months by winterizing your vehicle before the beginning of the season. Consider these tips before the temperature drops.
- Check your tire pressure regularly. Cold temperatures cause tire air pressure to drop.
- Check your battery. Extreme temperatures can cause your vehicle’s battery to operate at less than 50%. If your battery is over three years old, have it tested.
- Check the antifreeze mixture. The ideal mixture of antifreeze and water in your radiator is 50:50.
- Change the oil in your engine and check the viscosity grade. To reduce the risk of problems with your engine oil, place thinner oil in your engine before the cold weather season.
- Conduct inspections. Be sure to have your belts and hoses inspected. In addition, make sure you check your wipers and refill the wiper fluid.
- Install snow tires on your vehicle. Snow tires will increase traction and reduce your chances of slipping on slick surfaces.
- Be prepared. Place a roadside emergency supply kit in your vehicle to be prepared for any scenario on the road.
The winter may be hard on you, resulting in dry skin, brittle hair and an increased risk of the flu. But it’s also hard on your vehicle. Take the necessary steps to protect it against the cold to ensure it will last the entire season. For more tips, see the infographic at the end of this post.
Prepare to Drive Safely on Slick Winter Roads
Winter weather can present many driving headaches for drivers, especially slick roadways. Most skids can be prevented by simply adjusting driving to the conditions and remembering how to recover if you come in contact with a slippery surface. Consider the following tips to avoid a dangerous accident when roads are slick.
- Slow down before reaching curves and turns.
- Plan ahead for lane changes by checking your rearview mirror and your blind spots to ensure the other lane is clear. Make this move with the least possible steering changes and a light foot on the gas.
- Watch out for ice patches or piles of wet leaves on overpasses and in shady areas.
- Increase the following distance behind the vehicle in front of you.
- Anticipate stops by slowing down gradually, well ahead of intersections. Also, be aware that approaches to stopping areas will be slick because of excessive starting and stopping traffic.
- Use only a light foot on your gas pedal when driving in heavy snow.
- If you go into a skid, do not steer against the skid or hit the brakes. Steer in the direction that your vehicle is sliding until you feel your wheels recover traction. If you must, apply the brake carefully so that you do not lock your wheels and intensify the skid.
In addition to these helpful safety precautions, consider putting snow tires on your vehicle this winter. They have greater traction and control in snowy weather than traditional tires and will help you get through the season when roads are slick.
For additional driving safety guidance and auto insurance solutions, contact us today.
Store Vehicles Properly During Winter Months
Consider safely storing any vehicle that won’t be used during the winter to avoid damage from the harsh weather and roads. Follow these steps to prepare and store your vehicle this winter.
- Select a proper storage location. First and foremost, finding a safe and secure place to store your vehicle during the winter is important. An indoor area with concrete flooring (e.g., a garage, shed or local storage facility) is the most effective option because outdoor options or locations with dirt flooring could expose your vehicle to excess moisture and contribute to significant rust problems. If you must keep your vehicle outdoors, protect it with a breathable, weatherproof cover.
- Keep it clean. Make sure you thoroughly clean both the inside and outside of your vehicle before putting it in storage. Start by removing any stray trash within your vehicle and using a vacuum to eliminate crumbs or dirt. Doing so will help deter unwanted pests from trying to invade your vehicle while it’s stored away. Next, wash and dry the outside of your vehicle to remove any dust or dirt buildup. Consider polishing and waxing it to reduce the risk of corrosion or rust formation.
- Take care of vehicle fluids. Having clean oil, adequate brake fluid and a full tank of gasoline will protect your vehicle while it’s in storage and will help it run more smoothly when spring comes. In addition, be sure to use a fuel stabilizer to prevent the gasoline from deteriorating in your tank or causing engine blockages.
- Check the tires and brakes. Inflate your vehicle’s tires to their maximum air pressure so that they can slowly deflate as the temperature drops. Also, don’t engage your parking brake, as it may become frozen. Instead, use chocks (wedges placed under the vehicle’s tires) to ensure your vehicle doesn’t move around or roll away while in storage.
- Start it up. While your vehicle is in storage, start it periodically for 10-15 minutes to get the proper oils and coolants running through it. If your vehicle has a cover, remove it and roll down the windows before running the engine. If your vehicle is stored indoors, ensure that a door and any windows to the outside are left open for proper ventilation before starting the engine.
Finally, think twice before canceling your coverage on a stored vehicle. Although dropping your insurance for the winter might be tempting, stored vehicles can be susceptible to damage. Always consult your insurance professional before making changes to your policy.
For more information about auto insurance coverage, contact Hylant.
The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted advisor for insurance-related questions.