Automotive winter preparation

By Morgan McKinniss - [email protected]

OHIO VALLEY — Winter weather came in full swing this week covering the roads in ice and snow.

While this creates new hazards for motorists, many of those hazards can be mitigated with proper vehicle maintenance in preparation for the colder months. Brandon Potter is the Automotive Service Instructor at Buckeye Hills Career Center and has 10 precautions vehicle owners should take for winter driving.

“Check your tires for good tread and proper inflation,” said Potter. “You may consider switching to a snow tire.”

As the only point of contact with the road surface, tires play a critical part in vehicle safety and stability in slippery conditions. Potter also recommends checking the fluids in your vehicle: engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and brake fluid.

“Test the strength of the coolant for freezing temps. It should have freeze protection down to negative 30 to negative 40 degrees,” stated Potter.

A special tool is needed to do this, and is commonly available at auto-parts stores. Another common item on vehicles that owners should replace is their wiper blades, which are critical for maintaining visibility in heavy precipitation.

The electrical system also suffers added strain in the cold season, as car batteries lose their ability to provide enough voltage for the starter to work. Potter recommends having your battery tested for cold cranking amps and cleaning the battery terminals for an efficient connection. A faulty connection at the battery terminals can cause several problems, including starting the engine.

If your vehicle is equipped with four wheel drive, testing those components for proper operation is a good idea according to Potter. Test them before the bad weather occurs so that any problems can be resolved before the four wheel drive is necessary.

Often times, door locks will freeze up when the temperature drops.

“Spray a small amount of lock lube, something like WD-40 into the keyhole of your licks,” stated Potter. “This will prevent them from freezing.”

Potter also suggests several items to keep in the vehicle in case of an emergency. While we live in an age of cell phones and immediate contact, cell phones are not always perfectly reliable or help may not be able to respond right away. Keeping an emergency kit in the vehicle could could prove to be vital to surviving an emergency situation. Pack it with a flashlight, flares, jumper cables, phone charger, and a blanket, are all suggested by Potter.

Also useful in case of an emergency is a bag of kitty litter. If your vehicle becomes stuck on a slick surface, sprinkling the litter under the tires can add traction and remedy the situation.

“Keep your gas tank half full at all times in case you slide of the road and need to stay warm until help arrives,” stated Potter.

Lastly, he also recommends having an ice scraper and a snow brush in the vehicle to clear windows of snow and ice.

By Morgan McKinniss

[email protected]

Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342.

Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342.