Winter Is Coming

Author – Midhili P

Everybody’s favourite holiday season is upon us once again. It’s time to take out your sweaters and winter boots and start planning for skiing trips and Christmas. And while there is an undeniable appeal to a typical white Christmas, snow and frost unfortunately also comes with a whole lot of inconveniences that most of us could definitely live without – car problems being one of the major ones.

Driving in the wet, slippery roads of winter isn’t exactly a prospect that any of us look forward to. Now, add in the howling gusts of wind that old man winter usually brings with him and your otherwise swift drive to work or to the grocery store will turn into an endless nightmare. A nightmare with real life repercussions involved. However, undertaking adequate measures and preparations can go a long way in mitigating the dangers of winter driving as well as in managing the discomfort that comes with having to maneuver your car in sub-optimal conditions.

Some of the most common problems that your vehicle may incur during winters are battery death, low tire pressure, thickening of fluids, cracks in spark plug and faulty alternator tips. Here are some of the basic counter measures you can take to avoid running into these issues –

1.Have Your Car Serviced For Winter Conditions – Take your car to the nearest servicing centre and have it prepared for the upcoming months and pay special attention to get the following details right –

  • Maintenance – Car batteries tend to lose 10 percent of their charge capacity during winters, making it more likely for your battery to run out of charge during this time, especially if it is used less in winters and is older than 5 years. Therefore, it needs to be ensured that the terminals of the battery are well connected and the battery has optimum levels of distilled water. Installing a battery at or above 600 CCA is also recommended in case of old batteries.
  • System – The recommended ratio for anti-freeze to water is between 50/50 to 70/30. Check with the technician as to what antifreeze should be used in your vehicle as well as about the ideal coolant-to-water ratio to prevent freezing and corrosion.
  • Brakes – It is important to get your brakes thoroughly inspected to ensure safety and high performance during winters so that you will not be left stranded or with a sluggish vehicle in harsh conditions.
  • Hoses, Spark Plugs, Wires And Cables – If any of these goes bad during winters, you will be stranded in a very cold place for a very long time. Therefore, it’s best to have them checked proactively by the mechanic during servicing.

 

 

2. Switch to winter tires –

With the temperature constantly looming below freezing during winters, the rubber components in non-winter tires tend to harden, which will decrease the tire’s ability to grip the road. Winter tires, on the other hand, use special compounds specifically engineered to resist hardening in colder temperatures. However, if you live in areas that doesn’t normally experience intense winters, you will be able to make do with all-season tires.

3. Check And Maintain Tire Pressure Regularly –

Every 10 degree change in atmospheric temperature could possibly mean a gain or loss of 1 PSI in the tires. This means you should check the pressure of your tire more often during winters and refill your tires as needed. Appropriate measure of pressure for your tires can be found on the tire placard in the vehicle’s owner manual or in the driver’s side door jamb.

4. Install Winter Wipers –

wipers come equipped with rubber that stops ice from collecting on the blades and are thus tremendously helpful in increasing visibility while driving. However, keep in mind to remove them as spring rolls around as keeping them on all the time will increase the load on the wiper motor.

5. Keep Washer Fluid Full 

Single snow storm can exhaust high quantities of this fluid, so refilling the washer reservoir frequently with windshield wiper fluid formulated for winter conditions is a good idea.

6. Pack A Winter Safety Kit –

Before heading on long drives, it is always a smart move to store a safety kit in your car. During winters, this basic safety precaution could even save your life in case of emergencies.

7. Keep The Gas Tank At Least Half Full At All Times –

Make sure that your tank is always at least half full at all times while driving during winters as it will not only reduce condensation and decrease the chances of you being stranded on the road due to being run out of gas, it will also keep the engine running and keep you warm until help arrives in case of emergencies.

8.  Keep Your Rear Window Defroster In Working Condition –

Not being able to see behind you while driving is a huge safety hazard and that’s why most states have laws stating that your windows must be clear of condensation and debris while driving. Therefore, before winter arrives, be sure to check and make sure that your rear-window defroster is in working condition.

9. Learn Winter Emergency Preparedness –

It’s important to know what to do if you are ever in an emergency. For example, if you get stuck in a winter storm while driving –
–      Do not wander away from your car for risk of losing sight of it
–      Do not run your car for long periods of time lest you run out of fuel
–      Put your dome lights on to attract attention

10. Check For Changing Temperatures That Could Affect Traction –

It’s best to check the weather report for any possible change in the temperature before setting out on a drive since changing temperatures can affect both your driving ability and traction if you are not prepared for it.

These are the basic preventive measures you can take to stay safe out there on the roads this winter. Because snow and ice can cause hazardous driving conditions, it can make it difficult for other vehicles to see you or your car, so remember to remain cautious and vigilant if you must pull off to the side of a road or interstate.