There might be a to-do this winter about the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – but about the weather, that’s just a fact. In fact, if the polar vortex goes south on us, as some are predicting, it might be REALLY cold and wintry outside this winter.
So here are some tips to help you make sure your car is ready:
Before you go
- Make sure all the fluids in your car are filled up and ready for winter – that means antifreeze in the coolant system, a de-icer for your wiper fluid, and at least a half tank of gas all the time (the tank will be fine, but you want to protect the gas line from freezing up).
- If you live in snow tire country, but you DON’T have a set of snow tires already – the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has ‘em rated for you.
- If you are headed to the mountains, you might want to bring a set of chains for your tires (in the event of snow).
- Check your cameras and sensors (if your car has them) and lights – clear away any snow, ice or dirt that might interfere with them working.
- And in your trunk, you might want to keep an ice scraper and a snow shovel, some sand or kitty litter (in case you get stuck in the snow and need traction under your wheels) and some blankets.
On the road
- Slow down in ice or snow. AAA suggests increasing the usual 3 to 4 second following distance, to 8 to 10 seconds.
- Don’t stop if you’re driving up a hill (unless you have to, of course). Trying to start moving uphill in snow or ice – there’s not much harder than that.
- If you’re in snow plow country, give them plenty of room – and drive behind the snow plow, not next to it. Never drive into a cloud of snow thrown up by a snow plow – that’s like driving with your eyes closed.
- If you like to use your cruise control – save that for summer, spring and fall. Never use it on a slippery (snow/ice/sand) road.
- When you need to brake, keep it smooth (that’s true for accelerating too) – steady and firm does it.
Read more about what’s new in car tips:
If you get stuck
- Stay in the car (it’s warmer, and easier for someone to find you there).
- Keep the inside dome light on – it doesn’t use much power, and it’s a sign your car is there.
- Don’t run the engine for extended periods (and check first to make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked up). Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly.
And if you live in Phoenix or Los Angeles, congratulations. Enjoy your “winter” – and check back with us in June for summer driving tips.
Oh, and if you want a slightly different take on the old Frank Loesser song, here’s “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”:
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