Winter Driving Tips

When people ask me how to avoid car problems during Akron’s winter months I tell them to move to Florida from November to March.
 If you can’t do that, then here’s a few tips on how to be prepared when the temperatures head “south.”

1.Is it time for tires? The old penny trick to check tread depth doesn’t make sense when there is 6” of snow on the ground. If you think you’ll need tires in the spring- buy them now. If you lease a vehicle and need to turn it in within a year with decent tires, get them now. Rear-wheel drive cars and light trucks always get through the snow better with snow tires.
2.Get your regular service done now. Check your belts, hoses, water pump, spark plug wires and distributor cap. If they are getting old, get them replaced now so you won’t be stranded on a cold wintry night.

3.Make sure your battery and charging system is working properly. If you need a new battery get it now. It takes more “juice” to start your car in the winter because your oil isn’t as “thin” as it is in the summer.

4.Check your antifreeze. You can buy a gadget to check it at any auto parts store or we can check it in a couple of minutes. Make sure you mix up your coolant with a 50/50 mix. Don’t use a 100% mixture, because it actually has a lower freezing point. And if your coolant freezes it will expand and then you can kiss your engine block good-bye.

5.Your coolant system also works in the winter, get it checked. Engines can overheat in the winter because of low coolant. If that happens you can be looking at some major engine damage. Also, if you have low coolant, you probably won’t have any heat.

6.Replace worn windshield wipers and check the fluid. Winter driving is tough enough even when you can see. Consider getting heavy duty blades. Keep your reservoir full, on a bad day you can suse more than a gallon of fluid. Also, it is recommended that you buy higher quality fluid.  Lower quality fluid tends to freeze. And while you’re at it make sure your rear window defroster is working.

Be prepared. We’ve all heard the horror stories of people being stranded in the winter. Make sure you have jumper cables and safety flares. Put a large flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, gloves and some warm clothes in your trunk. Also include some bottled water and non-perishable food. Don’t forget an ice scraper and keep your mobile phone charged. Also we recommend that you always keep at least a half tank of gas in your vehicle during extremely cold temperatures.