Many Midwest drivers accept that snow and ice may make driving in winter a challenge. While you can’t change the weather, you can take steps to make sure you and your vehicle are ready for what Old Man Winter delivers. Grinnell Mutual recommends winterizing your vehicle before driving in wintry conditions.
Inspect your vehicle
Cold temperatures put added stress on your vehicle. Oil and other fluids behave differently until they get to proper operating temperatures. Robbie Gray, auto physical damager manager at Grinnell Mutual, recommends performing a thorough inspection of your vehicle.
“At your next oil change, check the antifreeze to make sure it has enough strength for extreme cold temperatures of at least -30 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Gray.
Your mechanic can also check if your battery has enough charge to start the engine and if the tread depth and air pressure of your tires has enough traction for slick roads. Also check brake fluids, windshield wiper fluids and blades, and your front and rear lights.
Have an emergency kit
Grinnell Mutual recommends creating an emergency supply kit to keep in your vehicle packed with the following items.
Blankets and cold weather gear, including gloves, hats, and boots
Water and non-perishable snacks
First aid kit
Supplies to clear snow and ice such as a shovel, snow brush, and ice scraper
Rope strong enough to tow your vehicle
Charger for your cell phone
Items to help with tire traction such as a bag of sand, kitty litter, or tire chains
If your vehicle is disabled
Over 500,000 vehicle accidents occur in on wintry roads each year. If your vehicle becomes disabled on snowy, slushy, or icy roads this winter, Grinnell Mutual recommends the following steps.
Call for help. “Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible, depending on your damage and where you are,” said Gray. “If your vehicle is on the side of the road, make sure the flashers are on. If there is not a towing ban in place, first responders may send a tow truck as well.”
Inspect the vehicle. “Check to make sure there are no fluids or coolant leaking,” said Gray. “When your vehicle runs out of coolant, the engine can overheat which could cause further damage.”
Stay with the vehicle. If it is safe to stay in your vehicle, do so. Your vehicle will protect you from frigid temperatures and wind. Keep the windows up to keep the cabin warm and prevent exhaust fumes from entering the vehicle.