During winter, it is important to ‘winterize’ your car for extra safety. The cold weather wreaks havoc on most cars, and therefore, as a cautious driver, it is important to prepare well in advance. Here are some tips that will make your vehicle safer during the cold months.
Taking care of those tires
Driving in such harsh conditions should always be avoided, but if you must venture out, there are a few things that you can adapt to stay safe. One of them is to have special tires that provide better gripping on the snowy and icy roads. Most vehicles are fitted with all-season tires and they are perfect to begin with. However, if you live in a snowy land, it’s always a good idea to buy a set of extra wheels. Even if there are some extra initial costs, having an extra set of wheels sets you up safely for at least the next three seasons.
Know your snow!
Each snow calls for a separate kind of tire. To cite an instance, for deep packed snow, you can use the winter/snow tires. They are made to provide optimum traction while the rubber stays pliable even in bitter temperatures.
If you reside in a city where there are slick, icy roads, then the studless winter/snow tires are your vehicle’s best friend. While the stud-ables ones have holes to hold metal studs that claw the ice and improves grip, the studless tires are manufactured for enhanced grip on snow and ice. For the melted snow and dry pavement kind of roads, you will have to swap your winter/snow tires for the all-season ones.
Another thing to keep in mind is monitoring the tire pressure during winter. Tire pressures tend to drop when the air becomes colder and therefore, checking it at least once a month is a good habit.
Before you head out for that drive
It’s always best to avoid driving in the snow, but if you did decide to head out, you should also be prepared in case things don’t go as per your plan. Besides keeping a good spare tire, always pack a bag of supplies to keep in the car. This should include some food like protein bars and water, warm clothing or a blanket, torch, first aid kit, mobile chargers, jump leads, an ice scraper or deicing fluids, some grit or cat litter.
Checking your car
Once you are packed and armed for extreme weather conditions, check your car’s batteries, fuel tank and other fluids. Battery capacity decreases severely during the cold season, and therefore, it becomes extremely important to have a well-performing battery all along. Make sure your fuel tank is full so that if you are stuck in a queue, your car keeps running. Ensure that there are additives in the screenwash to stop it from freezing and cracking the pipes.
Pick correct lights
During snowfall, most drivers use headlights to navigate themselves on the roads. Make sure that it is set to the dipped beam settings as it improves vision and allows other drivers to see you properly. Remember to use fog lamps only when the visibility is poor as fog lamps dazzle the other road users and the effect intensifies when there is spray form melted snow coming out from the rear of the car.
Stay aware and always maintain distance
It takes ten times as long to stop a car on an icy road. This is why it is always a good idea to keep that much distance between your vehicle and the car you are following. However, driving on ice isn’t about just leaving more space. It also requires proper training, patience, and use of all the controls – steering, throttle, brake, etc.
If you own a car from the 1980s, winterizing cars was an elaborate and a necessary ritual especially if you wanted your vehicle to run perfectly during the cold winter months. Fortunately, the modern vehicles are well equipped and do not require the same elaborate winterization process, however, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.