Now that we’ve had our first bout of snow and more cold weather is expected, its important to make sure your vehicle is equipped to handle the wintry weather ahead. Keep your car running smoothly this winter by starting with a tune-up and having routine maintenance performed. Recommendations from The National Highway Transportation Association includes the following:
Your vehicle and its windshield can get pretty dirty in the wintertime due to rain, and possibly slush if we get some snow. Make sure your visibility is not compromised, which means your wipers are in good condition, you have plenty of wiper fluid ( “no-freeze” fluid is an option), and that your defroster is operating properly.
Make sure your tires are in good condition, and if they aren’t, replace them. For tire ratings, you can log onto safer car.gov before purchasing new ones. If your tire treads are uneven, or if the tread is below 1/16” of an inch, it’s time for new tires. If your tires are just old, consider buying new ones. Regardless of their appearance, some manufacturers advise replacing tires every six years because their structural integrity degrades over time. Be sure that you check your spare tire too. You’ll find your tire identification number on the sidewall of your tire. It begins with the letters ‘DOT’ with the last four digits indicating the week and year the tire was manufactured. Check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations about your tires.
Check the air in your tires monthly, and always carry a tire pressure gauge with you to you can do this easily. The air pressure should be checked when the car has not been driven in three hours and the tires are not warm.
Have your brakes checked to ensure they are in good working condition and replace them if necessary. Also, know what kind of brakes your car is equipped with. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure when braking. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brakes instead.
If the road is slick or has snow on it, slow down and increase the distance between yourself and the car in front of you. Also, watch out for black ice, which we get often in the wintertime in Tennessee. It’s more difficult – and may take more time– to stop your vehicle in such conditions.
If your mechanic recommends that your battery be replaced, do it now, rather than getting stuck in the middle of a highway or out in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery. It’s always a good idea to carry jumper cables with you just in case, especially if you are going on a long trip. However, make sure you know how to properly use them beforehand, or you could put yourself in danger!
Many car owners don’t think about their floor mats very often. Yet, the floor mats in your vehicle do need to be replaced every now and then, and checked for safety. It’s best to follow your manufacturers instructions regarding floor mat installation and use the available clips if applicable. Make sure your floor mats are the proper size for your vehicle, and that they are installed correctly. Also, don’t stack floor mats on top of one another. Check your floor mats to ensure they aren’t moving – especially the driver’s floor mat — which could cause interference with the brake and gas pedals –and cause an accident.
If you do find your vehicle skidding, www.safercar.gov recommends that you “steer into the skid.” You do this by staying calm and easing your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your car to go. Keep your foot off the gas and brake until you regain control of the vehicle. Steering into the skid will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.
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