Preparing Your Vehicle for the Coldest Months of the Year

November 26th, 2018 by Wapner Newman

Preparing Your Vehicle for the Coldest Months of the Year

According to historic U.S. climate data, people living in and around Philadelphia can expect the average temperature to hover somewhere between the low to mid 40-degree mark from December through February. If you fall into this category as a resident of the Commonwealth, you can expect chilly weather for three months–a full quarter of any given calendar year. Oh, and don’t forget that the average snowfall is just short of two feet. It’s enough to make anyone except true-blue cold weather lovers want to hibernate.

However, most of us have to go outside despite the cold sooner or later. And whether we’re taking our vehicles out for a spin to the grocery store or to get some exercise at the outdoor Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest on Christopher Columbus Boulevard, we need to winterize them first. Otherwise, our chances of getting into an accident can skyrocket.

As Accuweather information indicates, ice, poor visibility, driver distraction, and improper vehicle maintenance are the leading causes of crashes due to wintry weather conditions. While the first three items on that list can be mitigated to some degree by focusing while driving, the fourth has more to do with preparation before the vehicle hits the roads.

With this in mind, plan to winterize your car, truck, SUV, or van by taking the following precautions:

  • Get your tires checked or replaced. If your tires aren’t hugging the road because of inappropriate tread, they can’t do their job. You may want to buy snow tires or simply invest in an all-weather tire that can function in winter and summer. Talk with a trusted mechanic to determine the right fit for your vehicle and driving needs.
  • Put on new wiper blades if yours are woefully inadequate. This is a relatively inexpensive way to ensure that if you get into a snowstorm, your wiper blades won’t just smear frost, icy residue, dirt, and snowflakes across your windshield. Face it: If your wiper blades just barely help you see in the rain, it’s time to trade them in.And while you’re at it, replace the wiper fluid with a type specifically meant for use in colder climates.
  • Have a full check-up done. Make sure your mechanic tests everything from your battery to your brakes as early in the winter season as you can. That way, you’ll be less likely to suddenly break down on the side of the road when the temperature is below freezing.
  • Be sure your lights work. Test all your vehicle lights, including the turning lights. Wipe off all the covers so the lights shine at their brightest.
  • Stop waiting until your vehicle reads “empty” to fill up. Is your go-to habit to wait until your car is practically running on fumes to hit the gas station? Curb your tendency when it’s cold outside. Your car might not start on frosty winter mornings without a little bit of gas in the tank. In general, try not to go lower than a quarter of a tank; a full tank is even better.

As a final note, remember that in Pennsylvania, it’s law that you have to clear off your vehicle after a snow event. Don’t ride around with a pile of snow on your hood, roof, or tail, or you could be fined up to $1,000 if it flies off and causes harm to another motorist, pedestrian, or cyclist.  The same holds true in neighboring New Jersey, so keep this in mind when crossing in and out of PA for work or recreation.

Although you probably have tons to do at this busy time of year, take just a little time and get your vehicle ready for anything Old Man Winter tosses our way. You’ll be glad you did if you get caught in a “Snowmaggedon” adventure on the Blue Route or the Turnpike, or just on your way home through a winding rural road.

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