- Fluids! Make sure your fluids are changed and topped off. Oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and antifreeze/windshield wiper fluid are critical. Many mishaps can be avoided with this simple routine maintenance step. The worst time to lose braking power, for instance, is when roads are already hazardous.
Also, make sure to get your car a check-up ahead of winter. If you haven’t done so yet, now’s the time! You want to make sure everything from battery and brakes to transmission and tires are good to go.
- Jumper Cables. Cold weather does a number of batteries. According to AAA, at 32°F, your vehicle’s battery loses about 35 percent of its strength. When it gets to 0°F, a real possibility in the mountain regions, you lose about 60 percent. Your engine also pulls twice as much current. Investing in a good pair of jumper cables is a must.
Look for cables with multi-strand four gauge copper wire, copper alligator clips with pressed or crimped connections, and with at least 12 feet of length (more is better, especially if you have a truck).
- Flashlight. Days are short in the winter, and you rarely break down or have difficulty at the most convenient times! Be prepared with a powerful flashlight (LEDs last longer), and make sure you keep the batteries fresh. Flashlight batteries don’t like the cold any more than car batteries do!
- Tire-Changing Gear. Your vehicle should have a jack and a lug wrench in the trunk. Some standard tire-changing equipment is a bit… well, cheap. You may want to upgrade to a more rugged Hi-Lift jack and power lug wrench so you don’t add to your trouble while you’re trying to change a tire.
Your car will also likely have a “donut” tire that you use in a pinch. These are not meant for long distances, and they are not treaded aggressively as a winter tire should be. If you have space, a full-size spare can make a big difference in your vehicle’s performance on less-than-ideal roads - and your safety.
If you’re not sure how to change a tire, it’s a great time to learn!
- Emergency Flashers. Road flashers signal traffic that you’re having trouble and pinpoint your location for emergency personnel. They can also be used to start a fire if you really find yourself in a pickle. Always be extremely cautious when using these!
- Blankets and Extra Clothing. Blankets and clothing are essentially forms of shelter. When you’re battling winter weather, you need all the help you can get. Now, hopefully, your issue can be dealt with quickly and with nothing more than a bit of temporary inconvenience. If you are stuck longer, though, keep yourself and your passengers warm. Jackets, hats, mittens, socks, and blankets are vital. Keep them in a waterproof bag in your backseat or trunk - and hope you won’t have to use them.
- Food and Water. It’s always a good idea to carry extra water and nonperishable food items with you. Staying with your vehicle is usually the safest option, so you want to make sure you’re prepared. Peanuts, granola bars, jerky, and other foods will help sustain your energy.
- Knife. Another survival item that it’s always good to carry. A multi-tool or knife will serve a variety of functions - from cutting seatbelts in an accident to making minor repairs.
- First Aid Kit. Stock your first aid kit with bandages, gauze, safety pins, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic cream, antihistamine for allergic reactions, antiseptic wipes for hands, hand sanitizer, saline solution for cleaning wounds or eyes, curved scissors, cotton balls and swabs, pain reliever, and tweezers.
- Shovel and Sand (or Kitty Litter). It’s all too easy to slip and get sucked into a snowbank. Carry either a full size or folding travel shovel so you can dig yourself out. If you need traction on icy surfaces, carry a bag of sand or salt. Kitty litter also works.
Remember, if you can avoid traveling in extreme weather, do! Stay in place and let road crews get to work. If you do have to go out, make sure your car is stocked with these items - and be careful!
Spring will be here before you know it. If your car is looking a little worse for the winter wear, give us a call. Dent FX is here to help.