Driving Through a Winter Wonderland? – Part 1

Driving during a snow laden winter can take your breath away. However, the season's beauty comes with equal peril. The elements that create stunning winter landscapes also bring driving nightmares. Driving safely during the months that include snow, blinding storms, ice and slush takes preparation and the proper mind-set. What considerations do drivers need to make during the coldest of seasons? Well, there are several areas that really need your attention. In part one we'll discuss preparing your car and getting equipped for handling emergencies.

Preparing Your Car

Cold weather makes it necessary to make sure that your vehicle is ready to stand up to its rigors. A stalled car may be an irritating inconvenience in warm or moderate weather. However, the same circumstance could literally endanger a driver's life when it occurs in a winter storm or during extremely low temperatures. Your goal should be to minimize the chances of a vehicle breakdown by having a qualified mechanic inspect the following:

  • Wipers
  • Tires (tread wear, alignment, and traction by maintaining air pressure)
  • Brakes
  • Radiator and coolant system
  • Transmission
  • All fluid levels
  • Hoses, clamps and belts

It is important that once checked (and any deficiencies corrected), a car owner be sure to periodically certify that these items remain in good order. This is especially crucial prior to long trips.

Preparation For Emergencies

Wintertime driving calls for drivers to be ready to deal with the hurdles represented by weather conditions and the likelihood of being stranded. Car owners should consider having the following items available to deal with routine and emergency winter driving situations:

  • ice scraper
  • first aid kit
  • snow brush and small shovel
  • heavy blankets
  • flares
  • flashlight
  • matches
  • metal cup or small container (in order to melt snow for drinking water)
  • small or basic tool kit
  • bag of cat litter or sand
  • candles
  • salt
  • extra clothing (coat, boots, gloves)
  • jumper cables and drive belts
  • extra gallon of antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid
  • extra quart or two of motor oil
  • car phone, cell phone or citizen's band radio
  • non-perishable food
  • a dry support for a car jack such as small, sturdy wooden board

It is also helpful to keep plenty of fuel in your car or truck's gas tank to avoid running out during weather related snags in traffic or if you must pull off the road.

Be sure to read Driving Though A Winter Wonderland? Part 2.