The coldest parts of the country are battling heavy snowfall right now, but other areas of the country, particularly in parts of the south, deal with their own hazardous weather conditions.  Sleet and freezing rain can add a thick ice coating to the roads and can result in even more dangerous driving conditions than snowfall accumulations.  There are several ways to prepare your cars for icy conditions and keep you and your family safe this winter!

Brakes

Brakes are one of the only things standing between you and an accident on winter ice. A good time to have your brakes inspected is the start of the winter, especially if you notice any changes in their performance. There are several hints your brakes might give you that should bring you to your local Milex Complete Auto Care. If your brakes are screeching, this could indicate that the brake lining is getting low. Feeling vibrations while applying the brakes is a sign that your rotors might be warped from overheating. If your brakes aren’t as responsive as usual or your brake pedal sinks to the floor when you depress it, that might be a sign that your brake fluid levels are low. And your vehicle pulling to one side when you brake could mean that your brake calipers are binding.

Tires

When cold weather hits, your tire pressure drops as the air becomes compressed. Make sure your tires still have enough air in them to maintain proper contact with the road. If they begin looking flat, that means the middle section of the tire is not coming into contact with the road enough to help you maintain traction. Tread depth is another important factor in tire integrity. A common way to check your tire’s tread depth is with a penny. Just hold the penny at the bottom, so that your finger is at Abe Lincoln’s shoulders. Then insert the penny into the tire’s tread so that Lincoln’s head is pointing into the tire. If Abe’s head is fully visible, that means your tires are worn and should be replaced.

Defensive maneuvers

The main thing you want to avoid when you’re driving in ice is sudden braking. Sudden changes in speed and application of the brakes, especially with antilock brakes, is the main cause of slides that can lead to a loss of control of your vehicle. Drive slowly, and if your car begins to slide, pump your brakes gently and turn your steering wheel in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. If you get stuck in ice, spinning your tires will do no good. Instead, try placing a floor mat or cardboard under your tires to gain traction. You could also have a bag of sand or kitty litter in your trunk that you can sprinkle around your tires to help them grip the ice better.

Common sense

If you see that the roads are icy, you should evaluate whether you really must get in your car and drive. If you can avoid driving at all, wait until your roads are treated with ice melt to help prevent an accident.  It’s always better to stay safe, especially when ice can be so unpredictable. If you can’t avoid going somewhere at that moment, make sure you wear your seatbelt, drive slowly and allow plenty of time to brake. Try your best to avoid hills, which can cause you to accelerate too quickly, and bridges, which freeze faster than the roads.

Ice can be unpredictable, hard-to-see and dangerous, but you can prepare your car and yourself with these tips. For more information and to make sure your car is in tip-top shape, visit your local Milex Complete Auto Care today!

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