How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Inclement Weather

Winter weather often brings heavy snow and ice, creating a hazardous environment for drivers. In Missouri, it’s not uncommon for ice to accumulate and cause slick driving conditions. Approximately 5,500 vehicle crashes involving snow or ice occurred in 2020, resulting in 1,698 injuries and 26 deaths in the Show-Me State.

Winter weather can affect your car’s performance and make you and other drivers less safe on the road.  As the cold approaches, explore several maintenance steps to make driving safer and more manageable during the winter.

Replace Your Windshield Washer Fluid and Wipers

It is essential to fill up your windshield washer fluid reservoir before the start of the winter season. Choose a windshield washer fluid designed for cold weather that contains antifreeze so that it won’t freeze in cold temperatures.

Invest in a set of wiper blades with a synthetic-blended covering that protects the blade from ice and snow. The blades’ rubber remains flexible in sub-zero temperatures to effectively clear snow and ice, giving you an unobstructed view when driving.

Test the Battery

Have an auto mechanic test your car’s electrical and heating systems, including your battery and alternator. Also, ask them to ensure cables, posts, and fasteners are in good condition. They can recommend a replacement of your battery and any of its components if needed.

A battery charger can help you keep your battery fully charged all winter, especially if you frequently drive short distances. Consider getting a battery maintainer. It can extend the life of your car battery by supplying it with small charges of electricity while your car is not in use.

Inspect Your Tires’ Pressure

Check your owner’s manual and your car’s door frame for the recommended pressure from the vehicle manufacturer before you add air to your tires. Manufacturers base their tire pressure recommendations on safety checks for comfort, handling, fuel economy, and tire longevity.

In addition to checking tire pressure, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends checking your tires for these conditions:

  • Sidewalls for any cuts, holes, cracks, or bumps
  • Tread depth for traction on the road. The tread must be at least 2/32 of an inch or wider

Some car manufacturers suggest changing your tires every six years regardless of your car’s mileage. Consider buying snow tires for better traction and maneuvering on icy and snowy roads.

Examine Your Oil Levels

Changing your oil filters and oil in cold weather is essential as your car’s oil thickens in cold weather. A thinner grade of oil will help your vehicle run smoothly in the winter, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation for your car. Don’t allow your vehicle to go too low on oil, as it can cause the engine to overheat and stall, even in winter weather.

Add Anti-Freeze for the Winter

An adequately winterized car relies on antifreeze to prevent the coolant in the radiator from freezing, prevent engine corrosion, and help transfer heat. Check your car’s antifreeze and replenish it with a solution of antifreeze and distilled water, typically at a 50/50 ratio. It decreases the freezing temperature of your engine and increases the boiling point, letting the liquid circulate throughout the engine.

Keep Your Tank Full

Snowy weather can cause condensation inside your gas tank’s walls. A car could refuse to start or stall if the condensation freezes in the fuel lines. Keeping your gasoline tank full can prevent your car’s gas line from freezing during wintry weather and traffic delays.

Check Your Brakes

Learn how your car’s anti-lock brakes work in cold weather and how to operate them safely. Anti-lock brakes prevent wheels from locking while braking, which can lead to severe accidents, especially in icy conditions. If your vehicle has antilock brakes, you should press firmly and continuously on the brake pedal. It may be necessary to pump your brakes if your wheels lock up without anti-lock brakes.

Make an Emergency Kit

You should keep items you might need in your vehicle in case of an emergency while driving during the winter. The Missouri Department of Transportation recommends having these items in your car:

  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Extra gloves, socks, a warm cap, and rain gear
  • A small sack of sand to use for traction under your wheels
  • Winter shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Bottled water
  • First-aid kit
  • Power bank for cell phone
  • Prescription medications
  • Small tools such as pliers and screwdrivers
  • Nonperishable foods like trail mix and canned foods

Call Cofman Townsley After a Winter Driving Accident

If you are in a winter car accident, contact a car accident attorney from Cofman Townsley immediately. Our experienced lawyers can assist with your case, including helping you understand your legal options after a winter weather accident and recovering compensation for your injuries.

Call our law office today to schedule a free case evaluation and learn the steps to take to file a car accident claim.