Winter will be here before we know it.
October is nationally recognized as Fall Car Care Month by the non-profit Car Care Council, which provides consumer education promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.
Make sure you and your vehicles are ready for wet pavement and even snow and icy driving conditions,” said AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds. “Prepare your vehicles for colder temperatures and hazardous road conditions, and take it easy behind the wheel.”
Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs when severe winter weather strikes. The Car Care Council’s free online guide at www.carcare.org includes information on service interval schedules, questions to ask your technician and how to increase your vehicle’s fuel economy to save money on gas.
Whenever Mother Nature brings freezing temperatures and precipitation, the number of calls for roadside assistance can spike. The most common problems in cold weather are dead batteries, frozen locks and vehicle extrications.
“During a snow event, we can easily receive two to three times the normal number of calls,” adds Dodds.
Before heading out, visit TripCheck.com (or call 511) for the latest road conditions and incident information, especially if you are driving over mountain passes.
“Every winter in Southern Oregon, we read or hear about a terrible situation that might have been preventable had folks been better prepared,” said Larry Nicholson, State Farm Agent. “Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours.”
Steve Fox, Director of Automotive Services for AAA Oregon/Idaho, offers these tips to help you face winter driving conditions.
Be sure the battery is fully charged; check all fluid levels, including anti-freeze; check ignition wiring; be sure all lights operate properly; be sure tires and brakes are in good condition; and be sure the windshield wipers and washer work properly.
Winter Driving Kit
In emergencies, the following items are invaluable: tire chains, abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, a small shovel, a flashlight, an ice scraper, rags or paper towels, blankets, flares or other warning devices, and booster cables. Pack bottled water and some snacks, such as energy bars. Be sure your mobile phone is fully charged.
Know what type of braking system you have and how to apply brakes properly (for example, don’t pump anti-lock brakes); make gentle stops and starts to prevent skids; Many newer vehicles have traction control systems.
Use Common Sense
Let family members or friends know your travel plans, including destination, route, and expected time of arrival so they can alert authorities if you don’t make it to your destination. Don’t blindly follow your GPS. If it directs you to a road that doesn’t look maintained or well-travelled, turn around!
Car Care Checklist
AAA suggests inspecting the following items for winter driving:
Oil: Change your engine oil and oil filter at the intervals recommended by your car’s manufacturer.
Engine performance: Have engine drivability problems corrected as soon as possible at a reputable repair shop.
Cooling system: Flush and refill the cooling system with factory approved coolant at the interval specified by the manufacturer. (A 50/50 mix of coolant and water is usually recommended.)
Windshield wipers: Replace worn wiper blades and fill windshield washer system with winter formula solvent. If your climate is harsh, purchase beam-type or rubber-clad wiper blades that help prevent ice build-up.
Heater/defroster: Check for proper system operation to ensure driver visibility and occupant comfort. Replace cabin air filter (where used) at intervals specified by your car’s manufacturer.
Battery: Batteries typically last three to five years, and failures are common in winter due to increased cold-starting electrical loads. If your battery is more than three years old, have it tested by a professional.
Lights: Inspect all lights and replace any burned out bulbs. Have badly weathered plastic headlight lenses restored for better visibility and increased safety.
Exhaust system: Engine exhaust contains deadly carbon monoxide gas. Have your vehicle’s exhaust system examined for leaks, and the trunk and floorboards inspected for small holes.
Tires: Have your tires rotated every 5,000–7,500 miles and check the pressure once a month when the tires are cold. If you live in a harsh winter environment consider a set of dedicated snow tires.