It’s that time of year again. The weather is turning colder, the days are getting shorter, yes winter is on its way. If you are like me, you are not very happy about this. Last winter was just downright brutal for most and predictions for this year are just as grim.
When it comes to winter weather driving, I am going to offer you 5 tips on how to ensure that you don’t get stranded this winter. After all, no one wants to be stuck on the side of the road in the freezing cold.
Check Your Battery
Your battery is the life-blood of your car. Without it, your car won’t start, which pretty much ensures you getting stuck. In some cases, you know you need a new battery from tough starts, dim headlights, etc. But other times, you just don’t know. Luckily a quick trip to your local mechanic can resolve this. They can check your battery and tell you whether or not yours is in good condition. If you do need a new battery, it will run you around $100.
Also, make note of times when your car might sit for an extended amount of time. A few winters back, my wife and I went on a vacation for a week in February. I had no car issues before, but when we got back, my battery was dead. The freezing temperatures and not running my car killed my battery. The solution here is to run your car for 10-15 minutes if you don’t plan on driving for a period of time. Of course, this isn’t always possible, so you should have your battery checked before hand.
Check Your Tires
If you want to increase your chances of getting stuck, in an accident or unable to get out of the way of trouble, just drive on worn tires in inclement weather. In most states, you can pass inspection with a tread depth of 2/32. While this isn’t an issue during the summer, if you drive where it snows, this lack of tread depth will cause an issue for you.
Make it a point to have tires that have a good amount of tread on them. If you live where it snows a lot, you might want to consider snow tires. From there, make sure they are properly inflated. I check my tires after each fill up. Most cars today have tire pressure monitoring systems. Make sure yours is working and if the system tells you a tire is low, be sure to add air.
Pack An Emergency Kit
If you have followed my first two tips, your chances of getting stranded dropped significantly, but not completely. Because there is always a chance, you need to be prepared. The best way to do this is to keep an emergency kit in your car.
The standard kit should contain the basics: jumper cables, screwdriver, flashlight, duct tape, road flare, and multipurpose utility tool ñ but also things you might not think of, like a blanket, gloves, non-perishable snacks and kitty litter. Why the kitty litter? When sprinkled under your car tires, it provides traction to help you out of a snow bank.
Invest In A Car Phone Charger
Next, you should keep a car charger in your glove box. In the event your car does break down, you don’t want to be standing on the side of the road waving down oncoming traffic, nor do you want to walk miles in the cold. By having a fully charged phone, you can rest assured you can always call for help or in the absolute worst case scenario where you have no signal, can be located by rescuers based on your previous connection to a cell tower.
Pay Attention To Your Gas Gauge
The last tip is the most practical; simply watch your gas gauge. When I was growing up, my Dad never let the gas tank drop below 1/2 tank in the winter months. He always said that you never know when something might happen. In the winter, you want to keep the car running to stay warm. To do this, you need gas.
Now that I drive, I make sure I watch my gas gauge and keep at least a 1/2 tank of gas in it throughout the winter. There have been a few occasions where everything was fine and then traffic stopped because of an accident. I was glad to have enough gas for the hours I sat waiting for traffic to begin moving again.
In all, these are basic tips that you can implement to decrease the chances of you getting stranded in the winter. While they won’t completely prevent a break down, they will lessen the odds making it more likely you will arrive at your intended destination safely.