Even if there is no snow on the ground, winter can take its toll on your car, and create dangerous driving conditions. Here are some tips to keep you safe on the road during holiday travel:
Antifreeze - Keep engine coolant at the proper levels as this protects against freezing and corrosion. Change the coolant as recommended by the car's manufacturer.
Battery - Test to make sure it is in good working condition to provide ample power for cold winter starts.
Brakes - Worn brakes require longer stopping distances and can pull the car to one side when stopping. A mechanic can check your brakes and make necessary repairs.
Emergency Supplies - At a minimum, your car should be equipped with a flashlight, blanket, sand or salt and a snow/ice scraper.
Exhaust System - Fumes from a leaky exhaust system can quickly become fatal. Remember, never run the motor in your garage.
Heater and Defroster - In proper working condition, these will keep passengers comfortable and the windshield free of ice and condensation.
Oil - Change your oil using a winter grade oil for easier starting.
Tires - Worn tires lose their grip on slippery roads. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread. All-weather tires or snow tires are recommended for most areas.
Wipers and Windshield Fluid - Ensure good visibility by replacing worn wiper blades or installing winter blades. Keep washer reservoir filled with specially formulated antifreeze solution for windshields.
Bono, Ohio on February 5, 2014. (Credit: Flickr/@PortClinotonDude)
Chemicals, salt and gravel used for de-icing roads can be extremely corrosive to your car. Clean regularly with plain water to reduce the harmful effects of these agents.
Slow down and avoid making sudden moves - no fast turns, no quick acceleration and no hard breaking. If you don't have time to slow down, when will you have time for an accident?
Freezing air circulating above and below the bridge causes ice to form more rapidly than on a surface that has freezing air above and warmer ground below.
This rule teaches new drivers safe driving distances - when the rear bumper of the car ahead passes any designated spot, make sure you reach the same spot in four seconds or more. Doubling or even tripling this safety measure is especially wise during winter driving but can be practiced throughout the year.
Keep your lights on and clear the windshield of accumulations of ice and snow if necessary.
Counter steer to regain control in a skid. Steer the car in the same direction that the rear wheels are sliding. If the rear wheels slide to the right, turn the front wheels right and vice versa. Do not spin your wheels when stuck on ice or in snow. Instead, remove snow from the area around the tire, if necessary, and spread sand or salt under the drive wheel to regain traction.
Safe winter driving can be achieved by using plain common sense. However, there are occasions when the best driving decision is to not drive. If you are uneasy about your ability to drive on slick winter roads or your car's ability to handle them, stay home!