Top Winter Driving Tips – Starting is important. Stopping is essential.

When it comes to winter car care, many motorists focus on simply getting their cars started. But having a winter-ready vehicle requires a lot more then having enough antifreeze and a strong battery – especially when the temperature drops below 0° (F).

“Outdoor conditions in winter can magnify existing problems (with your vehicle) such as pinging, hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling,”says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Sub-zero temperatures can quickly reduce battery power.” White suggests that owners should have a thorough vehicle safety inspection completed before the cold weather arrives in order to proactively identify and address potential hazards.

To help motorists travel safely on the road this winter, the Car Care Council also recommends the following tips for keeping cars and trucks in good working order:

Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times. Not only will keeping the gas tank full provide additional weight for your vehicle (potentially improving traction), it can also reduce the chance of moisture forming in the fuel system, possibly freezing it, and thereby preventing the vehicle from starting.

Check the tire pressure. Tires can lose between 1-2 pounds of air pressure for every 10° degrees of temperature change they are exposed to. Underinflated tires wear out more quickly, decreasing the tires overall performance by reducing its lateral traction and braking grip capabilities. Also check to make sure the spare tire is properly inflated and ready to be installed if needed.  

Check exhaust system. A leaky exhaust system can send dangerous levels of carbon monoxide into the vehicles cabin. This can be especially dangerous in cold weather when windows are typically closed

Get moving. Most modern cars are ready to be driven immediately after being started. Unless it’s necessary to defrost a windshield or otherwise warm the interior of vehicle, the most effective way to ‘warm up’ a car is by driving it slowly at first

Switch to a ‘thinner’ weightoil. A lower viscosity engine oil will flow more easily between the moving parts of an engine, even when it’s cold. For example, switching from a 10-W30 to a 5-W30 weight oil will still provide the same level of protection when the engine is hot, yet because it is half as thick, it will flow faster (even in sub-zero temps) making the vehicle easier to start

Use cold weather washer fluid. When it comes to windshield washer fluid, keep in mind the saying, “Just because its blue, doesn’t mean it’ll do.” Carefully read the label on the outside of the windshield washer fluid before purchasing it. Fluids are formulated with varying levels of different additives to make them less likely to freeze when exposed to cold temperatures. Check fluid levels before any long trip

Consider winter tires. Many ‘all season’ tires may give the impression they are capable of safely handling whatever Mother Nature throws at them. This may or may not be completely accurate, however, and depends on a variety of factors including the type of vehicle, type of terrain, age/condition of the tires, and the experience of the driver

What can’t be denied is that winter tires [Winter Tires] have been specifically designed to provide the most traction, control, and braking ability on cold, slippery roads.

A winning strategy: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

This winter, the vast majority of drivers will experience no problems with their vehicles. Still, motorists should be prepared for times when something does go wrong.

In addition to following the tips listed above, it’s also a good idea to create your own winter driving checklist for your family. Include items that would be helpful if you (or another driver) were to become stranded in the vehicle – out of cell phone range. Items for a winter emergency kit may include a backup cell phone battery, handheld multi-tool, ice scraper, snowbrush, small shovel, flashlight, jumper cables, blanket, dry food snacks, and bottled water

Depending on weather conditions and the length of trip, the kit can also contain items such as any necessary medications, extra washer fluid, larger supply of food and water, extra clothes, and a container of sand or kitty litter to provide additional traction when necessary

The bottom line? Be prepared. Enjoy all the winter New England has to offer, and before you know it the warm days of spring will return once again. We promise

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This article is made possible byVIP Tires & Service. VIP is a complete automotive repair and service center. When you choose VIP for tiresauto inspection, automotive serviceoil change, wheel alignment, brake repair services, muffler & exhaust repair, or any other car maintenance, you can rest assured that we will keep your vehicle running right. Open 7 days a week and with 56 locations throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, VIP is right around the corner when you need us. 

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