Winter is fast approaching and the Holidays are just around the corner. Many of us will be out traveling and enjoying the winter weather. Now is the time to start thinking about preparing your vehicle for possible emergencies while you are on the road.
I would start with getting a plastic storage container designed to fit in your vehicle and big enough to pack the following list of items: a flashlight with extra batteries, a gallon of drinking water, nonperishable easy opening food, flares, a lighter, a pair of gloves for all occupants, a change of clothes, a first aid kit, a blanket, jumper cables, a tarp, sand or kitty litter and a small shovel. These items are all easy to find at any local hardware store or a big box store. A few additional items to consider may be: a charged disposable cell phone, a charged battery jump box and a solar phone charger. Just think about what you would need if you were stranded overnight in the cold weather in your car. And, that leads us to your car.
Bring your car to a trusted automotive shop and have it winterized. Make sure your tires are properly inflated, are not worn out and there is no sign of damage to them. Check that your antifreeze is clean so it is able to protect your engine in extreme cold conditions. Have your battery tested to ensure it is in working condition. Many times a battery will be extremely weak but still have enough power to start your car until you get into extreme cold weather and it will lose its ability to work properly. If you are not sure about the condition of your wiper blades, get new ones. I have found that changing my wiper blades when the time changes helps me to remember to do this on a regular basis. Driving in bad winter weather is a poor time to remember you should have bought new wiper blades.
Every car should also have a good ice scraper in it. I recommend one with a handle long enough that it can be used to brush snow off the vehicle. When driving after it snows use that brush to push all the snow off your hood, roof and trunk of your car. This will prevent the snow from blowing off your car and affecting the drivers around you as well as keeping your sight lines clear for safe travel. Every car needs to have tire chains in them when traveling around Oregon during the snow season. It is amazing how quickly roads can change from cold and dry to cold and icy. If you can, have tires put on your vehicle. They work great! I am not a fan of studded snow tires because of the amount of damage they cause to the roads and they don’t handle as well on dry or wet pavement. If you are going to get snow tires, consider asking about stud-less snow tires and see what is available.
Always let someone know where you’re going, what your route is and when you’ll be back. Don’t deviate from that route so if something should happen you’re route is known. Another thing to think about in this day of technology is to not rely on a GPS system. They are great for getting around town and finding addresses but using them on long trip or into mountainous regions can cause them to give out false information and that information combined with the trust some of us put into technology can be deadly. Stay on major highways.
The biggest tip I can give is to plan for the weather. Allow extra time for all your outings. Plan extra time to defrost your windows and don’t drive until your windshield is clear. Do not be one of "those people" we have all seen drive around peering through a little clean spot in the windshield. Allow the rear defroster enough time to clear the back window and be sure to scrape any ice off of your back window before you drive. When there is snow on the road give people room to maneuver their cars. Not all drivers are experienced in icy conditions and some may not react the way a more experienced driver would. Give them room to learn. Have a happy and safe Holiday Season.
This article was written by Joe Cameron, General Manager of Stadium Automotive.
Tips by George
Fuel mileage decreases in cold weather by 5-10% when driving around town. This is caused by two factors, one being winter fuel and the other is cold engines are not as fuel efficient. Combine your trips for better fuel mileage and check your tire pressure.
When snow or ice is on your windshield, don’t let the wipers wipe it off. Remove it with a scraper or brush before driving. Wiper linkage is fragile and will break under heavy loads.
Tire pressures should be check monthly. Tire pressure affects handling, fuel mileage and tire life. Not only is low tire pressure dangerous, it’s costly. Find you tire pressure on you driver’s door post or in the owner’s manual. The pressure written on you tire is not what you should use.