Topics:Repair and Maintenance Budget Safety Voided Warranty Mileage Car Value Car Trouble Car Resale Money Saver Buying Tips Winter
For most drivers, snow in the weather forecast conjures a sense of dread. Roads grow slippery and snow piles turn even the quietest neighborhood streets into bumpy terrains. Many people would rather stay indoors than venture out on snow-covered roads. But snow isn’t the only winter weather that can cause damage to your vehicle. The cold air alone can silently wreck your vehicle’s most important components. Once temperatures drop below freezing, your car becomes susceptible to all kinds of issues, from dead batteries to flat tires. Here are some of the most common ways cold weather can damage your vehicle. 1. Dead battery A dead battery is one of the most common vehicle issues driver's experience when cold weather hits. Thousands of cars around the country end up needing a tow to their nearest repair shop because cold weather killed their battery. Cold weather puts extra pressure on your car’s battery, forcing your vehicle to work hard to start. Cold weather can also drain voltage relatively quickly, especially if your car isn’t in use or if your battery is old. If you find yourself not using your car during the cold winter months, it’s a good idea to go out and start it up once in a while to test out the battery before you’re left stranded. Experts also recommend replacing your car battery every three years. Batteries more than three years old are more susceptible to drainage. If you have a garage on your property, think about storing your car in the warmth for the winter. It won’t only protect your vehicle from the elements, but it will also keep your vehicle in between the 30–90°F happy spot it likes best. 2. Thick fluids Your car carries a lot of fluid, from oil and antifreeze to transmission fluid and windshield cleaner. These fluids won’t necessarily freeze when the temperature dips, but they will thicken up like cold maple syrup. Transmission fluid will thicken at around 35°F. If you can’t get your transmission fluid running quickly, your car won’t function properly. To keep your vehicle’s fluids running, warm your car up for about 15 minutes before hitting the road. Also, make sure your fluids are topped off. It’s hard for thick fluids to be forced up if they’re low. 3. Low tire pressure Cold weather can decrease your tire pressure by as much as one pound per square inch for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Driving with such low pressure will lead to increased wear and tear on your tire, as well as cause dangerous blowouts when you’re on the road. When you’re driving along icy roads, the last thing you want is to lose control of your vehicle. Think about investing in winter tires, which are more durable and less susceptible to pressure loss brought on by cold weather. They’ll also help you navigate snowy and icy roads. 4. Salt corrosion Salt works wonders when it comes to keeping the roads safe for driving, even during the most blustery of winter storms. However, it can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s appearance and functionality. Road salt can stick to the metal of your car and can corrode it over time. The underbelly of your car is especially susceptible to this. Corrosion can occur to your breaks, your wheel wells, your exhaust, and your muffler. Any number of your vehicle components can malfunction and lead to costly damage. Often, salt damage isn’t covered by insurance or an extended vehicle warranty. Wash your car about once a month during the winter. Use rust-proofing spray or sealant to protect your car’s undercarriage. If you can, keep your car in a garage throughout the winter. Maintain your vehicle all year long One of the easiest ways to ensure your vehicle is safe for winter weather driving is to keep it maintained throughout the year. Sometimes even the smallest issues can be made worse by cold weather. If you’re experiencing issues with your battery, your engine, your tires, or other car components, consider getting your car checked by a certified mechanic before the winter months. If you have invested in an extended vehicle warranty, your contract with the provider will require you to perform vehicle maintenance on schedule. Letting required maintenance lapse can result in claim denial, so be sure to check your owner’s manual and perform maintenance on schedule! Thinking about investing in an extended vehicle warranty? Vehicle protection plans can help cover the cost of unexpected mechanical (and electrical) breakdown. Many providers offer free quotes, so you can start planning now. Winter weather will never be fun for car owners. But you can take steps to make it less daunting — and less dangerous — by keeping your vehicle up to par all year long.
Stay safe this winter It’s about that time of year again when white stuff starts falling from the sky. It’s beautiful, it’s cold, and it means that your morning commute to work is going to be a little bit trickier. Driving in the winter can be a stressful and daunting task even for the most experienced drivers. Almost 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in snowy regions and has to travel in dangerous road and weather conditions. How can you keep you and your loved ones safe? Here at Best Company, we reached out to car experts for their top tips and tricks to staying safe while driving during the winter. Learn to use your breaks in the snow and ice Replace the fluid and check tire air pressure Invest in winter tires Put together an emergency kit Slow down Vehicle Maintenance 1. Learn to properly use your brakes in the snow and ice Unanimously, the car experts responded that learning how to properly use your brakes in the snow and ice is crucial to your safety while driving in the winter. Lauren Fix, founder of the Car Coach with years of car expertise, shared step-by-step guides to recover from a loss of traction and how to drive in icy conditions. How to recover from a loss of traction Understand that the process for recovering from a skid is the same for cars with front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. Maintain eye contact with a safe area where you want your vehicle to go. Take your foot off both the gas and brake pedals immediately. Turn smoothly into the direction you want the car to go. Warning! Do not slam on the brakes. Locked, sliding tires have no directional control. How to drive in icy conditions Use the defroster and windshield wipers for better visibility. Brakes are not your friend; the gas pedal will help you get away. Give sufficient warning time to other drivers when turning, stopping, or changing lanes. Keep plenty of distance between cars. You never know when you will hit an icy spot. If you do skid, turn the wheels into the direction of the skid. Keep in mind that melting ice is still slippery. Drive slowly so that your tires can push water through their grooves for better traction. She shared, “Loss of vehicle traction, over slippery conditions or for whatever reason, is always dealt with in the same manner. The object is to maintain your original path by looking where you want your vehicle to stop, and resisting the natural urge to look at trees and other objects you don’t want to strike, including pedestrians.” Kara Harms, owner of Whimsy Soul, further points out that “when the roads are icy and slippery, drivers need to tap, release, tap, release very quickly, but steadily, to slow the car down without spinning out. This is the biggest mistake I see people make when they are not used to driving in the snow, and I think it is the most important winter driving tactic. I learned this the hard way as a teenager in Wisconsin. One day I pushed the brakes like normal on an icy patch and spun out, very narrowly avoiding taking the whole car into a ditch!” Sam Maizlech, an outdoor and survival expert from Gunivore adds that, “Accidents often occur when someone gets frightened and slams on the breaks when they hit the ice. When your vehicle hits an ice patch, you do not want to hit the brakes as you will immediately lose control of your car.” 2. Replace the fluid and check tire air pressure Dani Dimacale, of Matt Blatt Dealerships, notes that a driver needs to check their cars fluids. This includes antifreeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid, oil, and windshield washer fluid. Throughout the season, keep an eye on your windshield wiper fluid and refill as needed. Next, replace your windshield wipers. Do they leave streaks? Squirt water on the windshield to check. If so, it's time to replace them. Also, DO NOT try to scrape your windshield with only your wiper blades. It will ruin them and possibly burn out the wiper motor.” William Lu, automotive lead for 5 miles agreed by saying, “Check all of your fluids and belts, in particular your antifreeze and oil levels.” Shaun Savage, founder of GoShare, advises drivers to “Prepare your engine by checking the antifreeze, testing your battering and getting an oil change. Cold temperatures drain battery life quickly, and you don't want to be stranded. So, consider a heavy-duty option. Oil behaves differently in cold weather as well, so make sure to get an oil change and get the proper viscosity for the season.” 3. Invest in winter tires A representative from Etyres says, “With the winter throwing us into black ice, snow and everything in between, it's important that drivers know how to drive safely. If you drive through the snow frequently, winter tires are ideal for you as they provide you with better traction and greater grip in cold conditions, especially when temperatures reach below 7°C/44°F. Winter tires can drive on icy roads better than summer tires as they won't freeze up, allowing you to drive a bit safer and allowing you flexibility with the rubber compounds that they are featured with.” Ian Coke, Pirelli’s Chief Technology Officer adds, “While many drivers believe the need for winter tires is based on precipitation and the ability to maneuver in the snow, in reality, temperature is the first and most important deciding factor. This is because the rubber in tires is formulated with specific compounds to perform well in different conditions — and cold is an important issue. Winter tires uses different rubber formulations that stay soft below 44°F degrees to improve their ability to maintain grip on a cold road surface — wet or dry. Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter. Yet in areas where winter tires are mandatory, like Canada, there has been a significant reduction in wintertime serious accident rates, with accidents in Montreal dropping by 46 percent, for example. Moreover, 80 percent of winter tire owners believe that a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from being involved in a potentially hazardous driving situation.” NTB Tire & Service Centers says, “Consider buying snow tires for the season. Investing in snow tires is a smart decision if you live where winter brings prolonged snow, blizzards and/or ice storms. The tires will give you the traction you need to travel safely in ice and snow. Snow tires typically last through three or four winters, depending on how they're stored and cared for.” When questioned about specific tips to extend the life of your snow tires, NTB says, "Checking the tire pressure regularly is key because the cold temperature changes can cause a tire to go low on air pressure. Good grip, good tread and tire condition are just as important for proper pressure for the tire to maximize performance as it is intended." Furthermore, Cofounder of You Could Travel, Cory Varga shares, "Winter tires are paramount. Don't go for the cheapest option but consider investing a little more in some well-reviewed tires from well-known companies which are more specialized. 4. Put together an emergency kit Lu advises “If you live in an icy area, you also can put a bag of kitty litter or sand in your trunk for traction on ice if ever you get stuck” Laura Adams, safety and education analyst at Driver’s Ed noted the importance of having emergency supplies. She says, "Being stranded after a breakdown or accident can be especially dangerous when the temperature plummets. Since you never know how long you could be stranded, keep these cold-weather emergency items in your vehicle: Ice scraper Snowbrush Blankets Water Energy bars Warm clothing Flashlight and extra batteries Shovel First aid kit Charger for phone battery 5. Slow down Kaitlyn Darby from Superior Honda advises drivers to “accelerate and decelerate slowly. It takes longer to speed up and slow down on icy roads. Take your time when you are stopping for a light. Apply the gas slowly to avoid skidding.” Steven Hileman from Togo Group shares expert advice on driving in the winter from Togo's RV guide by adding, “Winter driving presents its own complications. The most important thing to remember is to slow down even more than usual. Leave at least three times as much space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you as you would normally. Also, while most cars are front-wheel drive, RVs aren’t. If you find the rear end sliding and you feel you’re losing control, simply pump the brakes to regain control. If weather conditions warrant, pull over.” Angela Rucci, CEO of Tego insists driver should, “make sure to keep space in between you and the cars around you during a snowstorm. If you follow too close and the car in front of you hydroplanes, they may accidentally hit you too. Giving more space allows you to have time to safely react and move around them.” 6. Vehicle maintenance Ethan Lictenberg, from CarInsurance.org says, “Many people forget how important it is to take good care of your car, especially in such harsh conditions. It can mean the difference between life and death in some cases. If you have bald tires and didn’t bother to replace them before the season, you can bet on slipping and sliding all over the road. If you didn’t top off your fluids and assure your battery is working correctly, it could mean a very cold night for you.” The CEO and founder of GoShare notes that, “safe winter driving starts with good vehicle maintenance. Before you even climb into the driver's seat this winter, you should ensure your car, truck or van has been properly prepared for the cold, icy or snowy conditions.” Laura Adams from Driver’s Ed shares “Give your vehicle a check-up now, so when storms blow into town, you can handle them. Let a reliable mechanic winterize your car and check your tires, battery, wiper blades, engine oil, anti-freeze, belts, hoses, and four-wheel drive. Before getting on the road, remove all the ice and snow from your vehicle, not just from the windshield. Leaving snow on your windows, roof, trunk, or lights makes you less visible to other drivers. If you take time to warm the interior, you can prevent the windshield from getting foggy when you turn on the defroster and de-ice the exterior more quickly.” Bonus: SPOT If you want to take extra precautions to keep you and your family safe, think about investing in SPOT. SPOT is a X 2-way satellite messenger. This handheld device features a full keyboard, paper-lit screen, built-in rechargeable batteries and allows you to have direct communication with emergency services. Its unique phone number allows friends and family to contact you outside of cellular range. The IP67 rating comes with all the functionality of the original SPOT products including GPS tracking and check-in. The SPOT includes an S.O.S. where you can message back and forth about the nature of your emergency with the 24/7 Search and Rescue services and then receive confirmation when help is on the way. You can also exchange messages with any cell phone or email address from virtually anywhere in the world. It has features that allow you to check in from wherever you are to let everyone know that you are okay.
Many people enjoy spending the holidays with friends and families. A recent poll conducted by Branded Research found that 40 percent of U.S. consumers plan on traveling over the holidays.The poll found that of those traveling the most common mode of transportation was car with 23.9 percent of people choosing to hit the road. Planes came next at 11.7 percent, followed by trains and public transportation at 3.6 percent. Over a quarter of people polled ages 25-34 (25.8 percent) and people ages 35-44 (28 percent) plan to travel by car this holiday season. Also, 24.2 percent of people age 45-54 plan on hitting the road.Winter travel presents hazards and risks, like blizzards and black ice. According to the same poll by Branded Research, 31.6 percent of U.S. consumers have been in an accident during the winter.No one wants to get in an accident or be stranded on the road while traveling this winter. Safe driving techniques and good preparation will help keep you safe on the roads this winter.If you’re traveling this holiday season, here are eight things to do as you prepare for and plan your trip: Pay attention to the weather Let people know your plans Pack an emergency kit Wear waterproof clothing Take sunglasses Check your car before you go Start with a full tank of gas Be well rested Pay attention to the weather Weather forecasts can help you plan the best days for your trip. Though everyone knows weather can be fickle and change unexpectedly. Make sure you are aware of the conditions of the city or region that you are going to be in during the winter. Auto Insurance EZ provided a chart with historical winter weather conditions in all50 U.S. states.Caitlyn Paltsios, travel expert for Grapevine Gossip, says, “Check the weather before leaving for their trip. If the weather looks good in the morning but not at night, plan on leaving either the night before or early that morning to avoid any hazardous weather.”Making sure your travel plans are flexible and adjusting your plans around bad weather keeps you out of hazardous driving situations.Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com, says, “Don’t take any chances if conditions are predicted to be bad. If possible, it may be better to postpone your journey and arrive safely than risk getting stuck in a storm.”Amanda Hagley, Content Manager for Aceable, adds, “Why chance getting stuck in a snowbank in the middle of a winter storm when you can be warm at home with some hot cocoa and a blanket?”It’s not usually a good idea to travel in the middle of a snowstorm or blizzard. However, circumstances may be such that you need to get on the road even though conditions are bad.“If you do have to venture out always keep an eye out for changing road conditions. While one road may just be wet, the next could be icy so be sure to stay alert and adjust your driving accordingly,” says a spokesperson for Hankook Tire. Let people know your plans Whether you’re driving through a storm or not, provide your family and friends with detailed travel plans.“People should not keep it a secret where they are going. During the winter many problems can arise while traveling in your car. Make sure at least one person knows where you are heading, so they can send help if you need it,” Paltsios says.Hagley says, “Send a text before you leave and again when you arrive. Following this tip ensures that if you're in an accident or get stuck in a bad situation, someone will know to look for you and the general area you're traveling.” Pack an emergency kit Darryl Croft, automotive expert at OK Tire in Canada, says, “As winter approaches, think about putting together a survival kit to keep in your car for emergencies.” He recommends including the following: Washer fluid Spare tire Jack and tool kit Jumper cables Shovel Traction mat Non-perishable food Bottled water Candles Blankets Warm clothing First-aid supplies Flares Matches Flashlight Extra batteries The essentials for a winter road trip emergency kit fall into four categories: snowy weather basics, communication tools, car repair tools, and survival essentials. Snowy weather basics Ice scrapers Snow brushes Shovels De-icer fluid Sand or kitty litter Flashlight Reina says, “Winter essentials include ice scrapers and brushes, portable shovels, extra antifreeze, and cat litter, which can be used to help gain traction if your vehicle gets stuck.” If you’re parking your car outside, it’s essential that you have an ice scraper to remove ice from the windshield and a brush to help remove heavy snow after snowfall. Another handy tool for ice removal is de-icer spray. You can either purchase it at the store or make some yourself. Kevin Tennant, franchise owner of the Glass Doctor, a Neighborly Company in Alaska, shares one of his de-icing spray recipes. He says, “Pour water into a spray bottle and add a scoop or two of salt. Since salt water has a lower freezing point than fresh water, it starts to melt the ice on contact. Road salt is even more effective than table salt in this recipe.” “No matter what type of de-icer you use, store it at room temperature in your house, not in the trunk of your car,” Tennant says. Because there is less daylight in winter, Paltsios also recommends including a flashlight. This is a good idea even if your cell phone has its own flashlight. Communication tools Phone charger Handheld radio Hard copy of a list of contacts/map/directions Flares One of the most important things in an emergency situation is the ability to communicate. Kelly McManus, blogger and family travel enthusiast at www.travellingmama.com, says “When going on road trips or driving for long periods in winter, I always keep an in-car phone charger in the car. If there was ever an emergency, the last thing you need is a phone with low or no battery!” Having a fully charged phone will ensure that you can communicate your need for help and your location in an emergency situation. However, depending on where you travel, cell service may not be reliable.Dylan Gallagher, who takes winter tour groups to Yosemite and is CEO of White Wolf Private Tours, says, “I carry a handheld radio for when we’re out of cellular signal, which in Yosemite, happens often.” As useful and generally reliable as technology is, it’s always a good idea to have a hard copy backup, just in case. Tangela Walker-Craft, a family and parenting blogger at Simply Necessary, Inc., says, “Always have a printed list of emergency contact numbers (relatives, family doctors, pediatricians, roadside assistance, etc.) on-hand in case of an accident.” Since it is more and more uncommon for people to memorize phone numbers, it’s a good idea to have a list. That way, if your cell phone dies, you can still reach out to family and friends on another phone. “Print out a map and the text directions to have in the car. GPS devices fail sometimes during extreme weather,” Walker-Craft adds. Having hard copies will help you travel safely. A map is an especially good idea because it shows other towns and cities that may be closer than your destination. You can stop in these places if the weather gets bad or potentially use them as a reference point when telling people where you are. When all else fails, sending off a flare is a distress signal. If an emergency responder sees it, they will come help.Car repair tools Jumper cables Tire chains Jack and tool kit Spare tire It’s a good idea to be prepared to handle emergency repairs. Gallagher says, “I also carry a collection of emergency supplies such as an ice scraper, spare tire and changing kit, chains for the snow, and a reflective jacket.” Having a spare tire, a jack, and a tool kit will help keep you moving on the road if you get a flat. This preparation is especially important if you are traveling through a rural area. A reflective jacket will help passing cars see you better, which will help keep you safe. Grant van der Harst, Managing Director at Anglo Liners, says, “If you’re taking a winter driving trip, it’s essential that before setting off, you buy and place jump cables in case of an emergency. Cold conditions can really affect your car’s battery life, which can lead to you unexpectedly breaking down mid-journey.” Jumper cables do not take up very much space. In fact, you can even buy jumper cables that are attached to a battery, so you don’t need to connect to another car. Just be sure to charge the battery before you head out on your trip! Emergency essentials Blanket Meal/food Water First aid kit Regardless of your preparations, you may still become stranded. It’s important to be prepared to stay warm, energized, and safe. “I carry what’s required by law by the U.S. Department of Transportation for any commercial operation, including spare fuses, first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, and emergency triangles,” says Gallagher. A first aid kit can help with cuts and other minor injuries. It’s a good idea to include Hot Hands as part of your first aid kit because they can help keep your hands and feet warm. Nicholas Smith, founder and director of CompareNewTyres.com, says, “Make sure you take something to eat, possibly a long-life, ready-to-eat meal, and something to drink.” Having water and food with you will keep you going while you wait for help. Along with your winter clothing, Paltsios recommends packing a blanket. A blanket will help keep you warm in the event of an emergency. Wear waterproof clothing It’s essential to stay warm when traveling during the winter. While your car may have seat warmers and an excellent heating system, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the outdoors on a car trip.Grant Sinclair from Our Wander Filled Life has a lot of road trip experience. He says, “Make sure you have enough good cold weather gear that you can deal with getting stuck in the snow.”Steve Long, co-founder of The Travel Brief, also recommends wearing waterproof outer jackets, pants, and boots. “It's hard not getting wet in the winter, especially with the amount of outdoor activities to do on a car trip. Any ice and snow you get on you while outside the car is going to melt when you get back in. That cold, damp feeling is not only unpleasant, but can also lead to catching a cold. Bring waterproof outer layers for both your comfort and health,” he says. Wear sunglasses Unless you’re going on a warm, sunny, Caribbean cruise, this advice may seem counterintuitive. However, it’s an important safety precaution for driving during the winter.George Sink, CEO of George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, says, “During the day, light glaring off the white snow can be really bright. Wearing sunglasses with a yellow or amber lens can help with depth perception, allowing you to see rises and dips in the road that may not otherwise appear to the naked eye.” Check your car before you go Making sure your car is in good shape will make sure that you start your trip off on the right wheel, as far as safety is concerned. Smith says, “In wintery conditions, your car needs a little extra care and preparing now can help prevent breakdowns. First of all, you should have your vehicle checked by a mechanic with a free winter check. These checks can help prevent major problems and ultimately breakdowns.” Our experts recommend checking the following: Headlights Wipers Fluids Battery Tire pressure and tread depth Defroster Heater Headlights and wipersWinter weather means fewer hours of sunlight. “Make sure that your head and tail lights are fully-functional before hitting the road in winter. This will ensure that you can see and be seen by other drivers when visibility deteriorates during winter weather,” says Reina. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to check your headlights on your own with a friend. “Rotate through your lights from inside the cabin while someone outside the car lets you know whether or not they are in working order. Taking the time to check and replace if necessary your lights as you head into winter could make all the difference down the track,” Liam Ridings, from Sparesbox, says. Reina adds, “Look at your vehicle’s tire pressure, the condition of your wiper blades, and all fluid levels, particularly antifreeze.”Making sure you have the right windshield washer fluid and working wiper blades and lights will improve your visibility while you drive. Chris Burdick, founder of Automoblog.net, says “Driving along the highway, the last thing you want is to run the windshield washer fluid over it just for it to freeze into a sheet of ice. Getting some heavy duty wiper blades will make sure they actually clear the snow and ice instead of gliding right over it.” Car batteryCroft recommends checking the car’s battery. He says, “The cold can be rough on your batteries, and it’s an unwelcome surprise when your car won’t start on a frigid winter day. Get ahead of things by testing your batteries and making sure connections are tight, clean, and free of erosion.”TiresThe cold weather also affects tire pressure. Ridings says, “It’s a little-known fact that the chill of winter can wreak havoc with the air pressure in your tires, which can lead to poor handling, reduced fuel economy, and also affect the life of your rubber. As the temperatures drop heading into winter, pull into a gas station and ensure your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure.” Other important considerations to make with tires include switching to winter tires, tread depth, and chains. “Make sure you switch to winter tires. They’re designed to operate in colder temperatures and in snowy conditions helping to keep your car firmly on the road,” Smith says. Sinclair adds, “Make sure the tires have plenty of tread depth. Consider chains if you are headed into the mountains out West.”If you do not live in a wintery climate, investing in winter tires can be expensive. Having chains on-hand can be a cheaper option that increases your car’s traction and provides safety on the road.Heater and defrosterMargot Peppers, content editor of LazyTrips, says, “Make sure to check that the heater, defroster and brakes are working properly.” Since you’ll be spending some quality time in your car, you’ll want to make sure that it’s nice and toasty. It’s also a good idea to make sure the heater is working just in case you get stranded somewhere. It will help you stay warm longer. A working defroster helps with de-icing your car and maintaining good visibility while driving. Start with a full tank of gas Starting with a full tank of gas will keep you on the road longer and give you options for finding gas. If your tank is less than half full, take the next opportunity to fill up — especially if you’re traveling through rural areas. Smith says, “Every year thousands of motorists become stranded on motorways due to snow and wintery conditions and you need to be prepared in case this happens. The best way is to make sure you have at least half a tank of fuel so if you do become stranded you can keep the engine running and stay warm.” Be well rested Just as you want your car to be fully ready to go, it’s important for the driver and passengers to be as ready as the car is.Smith says, “Driving in the winter, particularly snow, is really challenging for us as drivers, simply because we’re having to constantly adapt our driving style for the road conditions. A tired and unrested driver doesn’t react anywhere near as well as one who is well rested and ready for the drive. If you feel yourself getting tired during a drive, try and stop for a short break.” Bonus Tip: Activities for kids on the road If you're traveling with kids, it's also a good idea to pack a few things to keep them entertained on the road. AutoAccessoriesGarage has a few suggestions of activities or games to pack.
Winter weather brings hazardous driving conditions: snow, sleet, black ice, and snow banks. It’s important to prepare your car for winter driving and have emergency essentials on hand, just in case.Once your car is as prepared as it can be, the next step to avoiding an accident is to practice safe driving techniques: Slow down Brake gently Allow a generous following distance Beware the “phantom shoulder” Use headlights Avoid cruise control Slow Down Slow and steady may not always win the race, but it does mean that you’ll usually reach your destination safely. Grant van der Harst, Managing Director at Anglo Liners, advises, "Winter car travel involves a lot of potential hazards, particularly from the harsh and wet weather, that affect the road surface and, consequently, your driving.” While drivers are not able to foresee all the hazards they’ll encounter on the roads, driving at a slower speed will buy them more reaction time in the event of an emergency. Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com, says, “Never drive too fast for conditions; this is a common mistake that many drivers make, especially if they have winter tires or all-wheel-drive.” Drivers should think about winter tires, all-wheel-drive, and other winter car changes as safety enhancements, not the first shield of protection. Reina adds, “In snow and ice, no matter what type of vehicle you have or how confident of a driver you are, always err on the side of caution. Increased traction does not always give you improved handling and braking. The laws of physics still apply on icy roads!” Tight curves in the mountains or on highway entrances and exits can be especially hazardous if there is ice. “If it’s icy, be sure to slow down on bends,” van der Harst says. Brake and accelerate gently Nicholas Smith, Founder and Director of CompareNewTyres.com, warns, “In the winter time your car tires find it harder to grip the road surface, due to the colder temperatures. You need to remember this when you’re setting off from junctions or driving up hills because the harder you accelerate, the less likely your vehicle is to grip the road surface. If you accelerate and brake steadily, you’ll significantly increase the chances of your vehicle gripping the road.” Smith’s advice is worth following, even if you have winter tires on your car. The Carlson Law Firm cautions to avoid braking at all when you begin to slide because in order to correct your car you need to be able to turn the wheels freely and without the disruption of the brakes. Allow a generous following distance “Remember that it takes longer to stop on wet, slick, or icy roads — so increase your following distance to give yourself plenty of time to slow down and stop before an intersection,” George Sink, CEO of George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers, says. Having a safe following distance can help prevent you from rear-ending someone and from becoming part of a more serious accident. Beware the “phantom shoulder” Sink adds, “Snow plows often push snow, ice, and slush to one side of the road, making it seem like the road or shoulder is wider than it is.” This phenomenon is what Sink calls the “phantom shoulder.” “Be aware that this snow may be covering a ditch or drop-off. If you get a wheel in that ditch, your could lose control of your car and go off the road,” he says. Staying on the road can be tricky, especially if snow is covering the road markings, but avoiding the shoulder will help you maintain control and be safe. Use headlights Winter weather brings fewer hours of daylight and the weather conditions can also decrease drivers’ ability to see. Using headlights when driving throughout the day is another way to be safe on the roads in the winter. A spokesperson for Hankook Tire, cautions, “While some cars come fitted with automatic headlight settings, many also have the option to turn on a dipped beam setting. This will not only improve your vision on the road, but will also help other drivers better see you in the snow.” Headlights increase visibility for all drivers on the road, especially during storms. Sink says, “A common rule of thumb to remember: anytime you need to turn your wipers on, you should turn your lights on as well.” Avoid cruise control Cruise control is the best friend of people making road trips or driving often on highways. Cruise control is also becoming more and more robust, especially with the advent of self-driving cars.However, many improvements still need to be made with that technology. There is also risk when using cruise control in the winter. Steve Long, Co-founder of The Travel Brief, says, “It might be tempting to use cruise control on a car trip because of the unavoidable long stretches of highway, but this can be dangerous in the winter. When driving over patches of ice and snow, the cruise control can unexpectedly speed up the wheels, and many drivers will slam on the brakes in response. This can cause your car to skid and you to lose control of your car.”Following the tips above will help you stay safe on the roads this winter. If you’re planning to road trip for the holidays, view expert tips on how to prepare.
The weather is cooling down, and the leaves are starting to glow red and orange. Winter is around the corner bringing cold temperatures, steaming mugs of hot cocoa, snowmen, scarves, mittens, and hats. As fun as winter traditions can be, the weather can make the roads more hazardous with snow and ice. If you have a car warranty, maintaining your car and preparing it for winter can ensure that your car warranty does not become voided. We talked to some experts about the best ways to prepare your car for winter driving. There’s still time to perform these checks and to make sure that your car is ready for winter. Here’s our list of five things to do to prepare your car for winter: Check your battery Your battery is your car’s main source of power. Amanda Hagley, a content specialist at Aceable Drivers Ed, notes, “Between using headlights more in the darker months, running the car engine more often to warm up the car before driving, and running your heater, your battery is sure to drain faster.”David Ambrogio, consultant at Superior Honda, also recommends making a battery inspection your top priority. He says, “Inspect the battery cables for any breaks or cracks, make sure the terminal heads are snug and don’t have any corrosion build up, and check your battery fluid level by removing the caps to make sure the fluid level is full.”If you don’t want to do this yourself, ask your mechanic at your next oil change. Check your heating system Along with checking your battery, you should check your heating system. No one likes being cold in the winter, so you’ll want to figure out any heat issue now. A car’s heating system includes heating vents, seat warmers, and the window defrosters. Ensuring that your defrost works will help you be safe on the road and save you wait time in the morning. “The defrost function is critical, as it will ensure that you will be able to see out the windshield and back window when things get chilly,” says Anthony Rodio, President and CEO of YourMechanic. Check your tires Make sure your tires still have good tread. Icy, snow-covered roads have less traction. Having good tread can help prevent you from sliding around or being in an accident.Michael Hand, an ASE certified Master Technician and Service Consultant, advises, “The number one safety item in a vehicle, besides the driver, is the tires. Without good traction on the road, no amount of engine power or braking power will help the driver stop, go, or maneuver.”If you live in a snowy area, consider investing in snow tires. Snow tires are designed to enhance road safety with special tread patterns. Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com, adds, “The rubber compounds in these tires are designed to provide maximum traction in the coldest temperatures, so it’s not just about the grippy treads.”If you choose not to use snow tires, you should keep tire chains in your trunk. Some roads require snow tires or chains under certain weather conditions.You’ll also want to watch your tire pressure. “Air pressure drops as weather gets colder, so it’s important to check your tires and keep them fully aired,” says George Strauch, franchise owner of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly Company. Change your fluids Colder temperatures increase the likelihood of your fluids freezing. To avoid this, replace your current fluids with ones that have a lower freezing temperature. “If the coolant freezes the pressure from the expansion from liquid to solid can cause severe engine damage by cracking components which will then start leaking once warmed up,” says Michael Hand, who currently works as the Customer Success Manager for TruVideo.You should check all of the fluids in your car, like oil, wiper fluid, and coolant. Have an emergency kit If you experience car difficulties in the winter, you’ll want to be prepared. “Keep a plastic tub in the trunk with a few things you may need in the event of a breakdown,” says George Strauch, franchise owner of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly Company. He recommends the following: Flashlights Blankets Extra gloves Kitty litter First aid kit Small shovel Ice scraper Flares Snacks Kitty litter can help give your car more traction if it gets stuck in snow or ice. If you are in an isolated area, flares can help signal to others where you are.Steven Pritchard, founder of Cuuver.com, adds, “Ensure that you invest in spare jump leads and place them in your car’s trunk, just in case your battery loses charge.” If you have a car warranty, some policies include 24/7 roadside assistance, so save that number in your cell phone. While your car is in the shop, your car warranty may also help defray the cost of a rental.Once you’ve checked these five things and made the necessary changes, you’ll be better prepared to travel safely on winter roads.Have more questions about winter car preparation? Check out autopom!'s advice.