Winter Drivers: How to be Prepared

One of the only good things to happen in 2020 is that on Christmas Day we woke up to snow! (Yes, I know that for some people Christmas is better spent on a sunny beach, but alas here we are). Although winter weather is already upon us, it’s not too late to make sure that your personal vehicle is fully equipped and ready to tackle all the wonderful snow, ice, and sleet that Michigan has to offer. Here are some quick tips on how to prepare your vehicle: 

  1. Get an oil change. Do it. Don’t wait. Quick fact – oil gets thicker as the temperature drops, so you need to make sure you have the right kind of oil viscosity to properly keep your engine running in the colder months.
  2. Replace your windshield wipers and top off your wiper fluid. The worst part of winter is seeing that little streak of water and ice in the middle of your windshield because your blades aren’t clearing it away properly. Obviously you want to be able to see out your window. Driving 101. Also fill that sucker up with windshield wiper fluid. Use it to help clear away dirty snow.
  3. Check the insides. You’ll want to make sure that your battery terminals are corrosion free, your belts and hoses are in working order, and that your antifreeze mixture is 50/50 antifreeze and water. If none of this makes sense to you, just take it to the nearest mechanic. 
  4. Check and/or replace your tires. As the temperature drops, tires lose some of their pressure, so you’ll want to make sure that your tires are up to the correct PSI that is in your car manual. Check this periodically throughout the season not just at the beginning. Imagine having to change a tire in a blizzard. It sucks. Also for those lucky ones who have to travel over varying terrain, you’ll want to think about getting snow tires, better traction.
  5. Pack an emergency kit. It’s better to be over prepared than underprepared, even if you’re just driving around town. Some items to consider putting in your emergency kit:
  • Blanket
  • Extra warm clothes/shoes
  • Some food/water
  • Flashlight
  • Ice scraper- who can live without this?!
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid
  • Gas can
  • Spare tire- make sure it’s filled up, buttercup
  • Sand, salt, or kitty litter- to help you get unstuck when you inevitably get stuck
  • First aid kit

Keep your fuel tank full. We’ve all thought this before: “I’ll get up early and fill up on my way to work”. Don’t. Do. That. Just do it now. I know it’s cold. It’ll be colder in the morning. You want to keep those gas lines from freezing. Also you don’t want to get stranded if your normal commute is extended due to accidents or bad weather.

Making sure that your vehicle is prepared for winter is the best thing you can do to keep you, your family, and other drivers safe on the roads! 

Jimmy Hanson, Lead Mechanic, Department of Public Works

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