Safe Winter Driving: Accidents Aren’t the Only Hazard

thermometer_coldMajor storms and extreme low temperatures have been creating some major driving problems. While snow and ice cause an increased risk for collisions on the roads, the cold temperatures also leave your vehicle vulnerable to damage. Cautious winter driving means not only being careful on the road, but also paying a little extra attention to car care.

You may avoid cold weather problems that could leave you stranded by watching these three things:

1. Weak or Dead Batteries
Extremely low temperatures strain your car battery because the chemical reactions needed to make it work happen more slowly. If you already have an old battery, this can cause it to fail even more quickly. Have the battery tested. If it needs replacement, do it right away!

2. Thickened Fluids
Freezing temperatures cause thickening of fluids your car needs to run properly, including transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, oil, and antifreeze. Making sure these fluids are maintained at proper levels will help you avoid trouble.

3. Lost Tire Pressure
Tires typically lose 1 pound per square inch (psi) for every 10 degrees of temperature drop.  Under inflated tires do not perform well, plus the tire pressure loss can eventually result in a flat tire. Be sure to check inflation more frequently as the air gets colder.

Along with following these preventive measures, it is a good idea to always be prepared for a road emergency. This is especially true in frigid temperatures. You may want to throw some winter items in your trunk, along with your roadside emergency kit, such as blankets, gloves, boots, packaged hand warmers, and a folding shovel. You may also want to keep bottled water and snacks in the car, just in case you find yourself hungry and waiting for a tow!