Even if you don’t live in an area prone to snowfall, experts at Milex Complete Auto Care advise drivers to take some simple steps to prepare their car for dangerous icy roads.
Driving during heavy snowfall is problematic, but automobile experts agree that sleet and freezing rain can be more hazardous for drivers. While most of the United States does not record measurable snowfall, many states are susceptible to freezing rain and sleet. This is especially common in areas in the southeast where the coldest temperatures hover around the freezing mark. That produces more icy conditions that significant snowfall.
Freezing rain is a dangerous weather condition. It can create black ice, a clear coating of ice on the roadways that is invisible to drivers. While snow plows can clear the roads of fluffy white snow, the only solution for black ice is to wait until temperatures warm up and melt the ice away. Freezing rain can wreak havoc on the roadways by washing away cold-weather preventative measures like salt and sand, increasing the danger on the roads.
Every year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement, and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. At least 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet. Given these grim statistics, taking steps to prepare your car for winter weather can make all the difference this year.
Luckily, there are several steps you can take to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter conditions, whether you are preparing to drive in heavy snow or ice on the roadways.
Take Simple Precautions.
The good news for drivers is that taking a few simple steps can get your car ready for chilly weather.
- Replace your windshield wipers. Check your windshield wiper blades to make sure they are not worn or gapping. If you see the blades are damaged, it’s time to replace them. Wiping down your blades with a lint-free cloth when you wash your car makes a big difference in their performance. Lifting wiper blades when ice or freezing rain is in the forecast can prevent the blades from sticking and extend the life of your wipers. Using an ice scraper, rather than your wipers can also help preserve your blades.
- Check your tires. Cold weather can cause tire pressure to drop. Low tire pressure can impact fuel economy, decrease the lifespan of your tires, and increase the chances your car can skid when you hit the brakes. It’s important to check your tire pressure on a monthly basis, it’s also key to make sure your tire tread is ready for bad weather. Experts suggest using a penny to determine if your tread is worn. If the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head is visible when you insert a penny into the grooves on your tire, it’s time to get them replaced.
- Get your brakes inspected. Ice can have a big impact on your car’s stopping distance. One of the first signs your brakes need to be checked out by a professional is if you hear squeaking or squealing. Some cars have an indicator light that will alert you when it’s time to replace your brake pads. Another common sign of worn brakes is if you hear a metal grinding sound or if the brake pedal vibrates when you push it. Making sure your brakes are in tip-top shape before cold weather hits can provide peace of mind and keep you safe.
- Keep your car clean. Keeping your windshield clear of debris can help you navigate winter weather.
Drive Carefully and Keep Your Eyes on the Road.
Winter weather is best viewed sitting by the fire with a steaming cup of coffee. If you do need to head out during precarious weather, there are precautions you can take to make sure you reach your destination safely.
- Keep your lights on. Keeping your headlights on will increase visibility in winter conditions. Be careful on infrequently traveled roads, bridges, and overpasses that are prone to ice.
- Slow down. Reduce your speed and don’t tailgate. The American Automobile Association advises leaving at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle you are following.
- Turn off cruise control. One of the features of cruise control is that it maintains your speed. But it may cause you to accelerate rapidly, which can lead to your car hydroplaning or skidding on icy roads.
- Brake carefully. Control your braking to avoid skidding.
Visit your local Milex Complete Auto Care shop to let the experts ensure your vehicle is ready to navigate cold weather conditions.
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