Safety Tips for Driving in Winter

A crucial part of dealing with ice and snow involves making sure that your car can handle the punishment cold weather storms can dish out. Here’s some handy advice so you don’t get stranded on the wintry roads!

If you’re stranded in your car …

  • Run the motor for about 10 minutes per hour and crack your window to let air in.
  • To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure that snow is not blocking your exhaust pipe.
  • Tie something bright to the antenna so rescuers will spot you.

Before you head out …

Make sure you’re properly prepared ahead of time by checking different parts of your car and stocking for an emergency:

  • Tire tread — Air pressure in tires decreases in cold weather so get them checked out. Tires should not be worn down to less than 1/16 of an inch. Check tires once a week and make sure your tires are properly rotated and aligned. You might want to check into snow tires.
  • Warm it up — Let your car warm up 1 to 2 minutes before driving so the oil can circulate throughout the vehicle.
  • Frozen out — If your lock freezes up, use a light or match to heat the key. You can also use a lock de-icer. To keep your doors from freezing shut, your best bet is to keep your car in a garage. But if you don’t have a garage you can apply a coat of petroleum jelly to the door’s hinges and latches. You can also place a plastic trash bag between the door or window glass and the frame. Do not throw hot water on the car: It will freeze.
  • Emergency kit — Stock your trunk with a snow shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, a flashlight, a blanket, bag of sand/kitty litter, clothing, water, nonperishable food and a can of tire inflator.
  • Check your fluids — Replace your antifreeze every two years. Check your oil. Make sure your water pumps and thermostats work. Check radiators and hoses for cracks and leaks and test heaters and defrosters for proper operation. Always keep the gas as full as possible.
  • Battery — Make sure terminals are clean and tightened. If you suspect your battery won’t survive the season, have a mechanic check it out.

Did you know?

The cold weather causes the air to contract and this can leave your car tires low on air. Tires that are low affect how your car maneuvers and how it rides. Car tires without the correct amount of air in them can cause the car to use more gas. This is simple to fix by replacing the air in the tire to the manufacturer’s specifications. Periodically checking the air with a gage is recommended during the cold weather.

Turn on headlights in the rain…It’s the law!

If your in California, we get more rain than snow in the winter. Please drive safe and remember to flip on your headlights whenever it’s coming down hard enough to turn on their windshield wipers.
After all, it’s the law. A subsection of the California Vehicle Code, amended in 2004, requires drivers to turn on their lights anytime their wipers are “in continuous use because of rain, mist, snow, fog or moisture.”