Items to Check Before Winter Driving
No 1: Check Cooling System: Coolant level & condition, radiator, condition of belts and hoses, water pump, cooling fans, and heater core. Be sure there are no leakes and you are protected to at least -20 degrees. If you have to add any fluid, use a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.
No 2: Check Tires: Check tread depth, tire wear and pressure. Check the air pressure in your tires as they lose pressure when the outside air temperture drops. Replace as needed. Winter driving requires good tread. Also remember that just because you drive a 4X4 with big tires doesn't mean you can drive on icy roads without a problem.
No 3: Check Engine oil. Change it and the oil filter if due. Oil becomes thicker in cold weather and changes in temperture causes condemsation. Also grease all components as needed.
No 4: Check Heater & Air Conditioning System: Refrigerant level, compressor clutch and belts. You will need that heater to melt the ice off the windows. The A/C is used to clear windows when the defrost is on.
No 5: Check Transmission. Service as required if at recommended service interval? Is the fluid nice and clean or a dark color? Check for leaks?
No 6: Check Brakes. Does the brake petal feel mushy or does it slowly go to the floor when you are at the stop light? Does the petal shake or feel like it is jumping when appling the brakes? These are signs of bigger problems ahead. The mushy petal could be a bad master cylinder or you may be loosing brake fluid. Have a mechanic check now! The shaking brake petal could be coming from warpped brake rotors. These may be turned on a brake machine to eliminate the uneven surface, if they are not to thin. If to thin, they will require replacing.
No 7: Check Battery: If your battery is weak, it will likely fail the first cold snap we have.
No 8: Check Wiper Blades: If they are split, squeak or hard, replace them. You are going to need good blades. Oh, let's not forget the washer fluid. Stop by your nearest auto parts store and pick up a gallon. You will be glad you did.
"If anything looks wrong or feels unusual, then it very likely is." So carry it to your mechanic.
OTHER ITEMS TO THINK ABOUT
1- Drive your car easily; Don't make fast starts or stops when on wet or snow covered pavement; it will save you money on gas and prevent skidding.
Here are some other ideas worth considering.
Save gas: Don't let the engine idle for long periods to warmup. Slow Down and drive at 55, not 65, 70 or 80.
2- Watch the Temperature Gauge. Heat is the worst enemy your vehicles engine has. This should be checked right away if it occurs. If the gauge shows the engine is really hot, like in the red zone, pull over and stop driving. GET HELP! It's not worth ruining the engine just so you can make it on time.
3- Watch the engine oil gauge or light; If the gauge shows a low reading or the light comes on, check the oil level. If you hear a chatter noise coming from under the hood, cut the engine off quickly.
4- Tires tread wearing uneven or lumpy? Means you have a problem. Have a good front end shop check the wheel balancing, ball joints, tie rod ends and steering components. These are Normal Safety Inspection Items in Virginia. If you tire tread is below 4/32", which means it is almost gone, they will not grip in snow.
Other Good Ideas, especially if you will be traveling
1- Always carry some extra coolant mix, particularly if you are traveling. 2- Carry a quart or two of oil.
3- Carry some small tools; screwdriver, pliers, electrical tape or duct tape, and wire or coat hanger. These could repair a leaky hose or fix a tail pipe hanger in a pinch.
4- Also, carry a couple of road flares
5- Carry a shovel, sand, or other item that can be used for traction should you need it.
"DRIVE SAFELY AND HAVE A SAFE Winter"
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