Here in Collierville we have already had our first snowfall, which is unusual for this time of year down South. Whether you live in the Memphis area or somewhere winter precipitation is seen on a much larger scale, you need to know how to get your vehicle ready for winter! Here are a few things you can do to winterize your vehicle and keep your family safe on the roads this season:
Prepare an emergency kit you can store in your trunk. Fill this kit with items that could help you in a roadside emergency, but also keep you warm if you are facing the elements for an extended period of time. We suggest:• Blankets, winter gloves, scarves and hats
• Water and extra windshield washer fluid
• Flare gun and flashlight
• Jumper cables
• Small shovel and an ice scraper
• Non perishable snacks
• Tire chains and a gauge
• First aid kit
• Spare tire with air in it and a tire changing kit
• A bag of salt, sand or non-clumping kitty litter
Check the antifreeze. Experts suggest trying to get the mixture 50/50 between antifreeze and water in your vehicle. You can buy a tester at any auto parts store. If the mixture is way off, you can drain it from your radiator and start over. Be sure to carefully dispose of old antifreeze (it’s very toxic to humans and animals) and do NOT pour it down the drain in your home or storm drains outside.
Check your battery. Make sure the battery can hold a charge if it is over three years old. Also check the connection cables for any corrosion. Lastly, check and make sure it has all the water it needs.
Check your hoses and belts. If your car is older than three years, or you haven’t had your hoses and belts checked out, be sure to do so the next time you have your car serviced, or do it yourself. Look for wear and tear and any evidence of fraying.
Check your tires. You will want to check your tire tread. Remember to give it the old penny test (if you can see the top of Abe's head, you're good)! Then check your tire pressure. You will lose about a pound of pressure for every ten degrees dropped in temperature. Adequate pressure helps ensure you have a good amount of traction to hold up to the elements. And if you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, invest in snow tires. You can use these throughout the winter months for extra traction and then switch them out for your all season tires come spring.
Get your oil changed. If you are due for an oil change, be sure to check your owner’s manual to make sure that the oil you’re using is the same suggested oil for winter months. The oil needs to have the right viscosity to flow smoothly through the engine and keep it lubricated; if it is too thick it will not be able to protect your engine as well.
Check your visibility. Is it time for new windshield wipers? Do you need windshield wiper fluid? Do not use water instead of wiper fluid in winter months, as it will freeze. Check your heater and defroster to make sure they can help you keep your windshields clear in a snap.
These are just a few tips to help you keep your car safe on the road. It is a great idea to also know what to do in the event of a roadside emergency. It is recommended that you light your flares and place them on the front and rear end of your vehicle to draw attention to your distress. Then you will want to run your car for ten minutes every hour you are stranded. Do not keep it constantly running. If you are in heavy snow, keep the windows cracked so the moisture doesn’t seal your car shut. And try to keep something in your mouth to suck on, like a hard candy or chewing gum, to keep your mouth from getting too dry. Put on the extra clothes and items in your emergency kit to help you stay warm. And, do not wander far from your vehicle unless you are absolutely sure where help is and it isn’t far away!