What we have here is a real winter. Reminiscent of those your grandfather talked about, when he had to walk 5 miles to and from school every day. Barefoot. Uphill both ways. And almost always through 10-foot high snowdrifts, except for the days when a tornado came through with hail the size of baseballs. Right?
While you’re pondering whether life is better or worse today than in Grandad’s day, here are some smart ideas for making your time in your vehicle a little safer and a lot more comfortable till spring comes.
- Snow tires: Four-wheel, all-wheel or two-wheel, if you really need to get around in the snow, Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers®, advise that “top-quality snow tires are the single best thing you can do.” If you didn’t do this three months ago, it’s not too late to do it now. We still have nearly half an alphabet of winter storm names to slog through before we can hang up our snowshoes and balaclavas. (If you don’t know, look it up.)
- Icy windshields: Next time ice or snow is predicted – that would be tomorrow night, folks, if you’re paying attention! – try these measures to minimize the need to scrape your windshield. Best: park in the garage. Better: cover the top and windows of the vehicle with a heavy tarp or blanket and tie or weight it down. When you’re ready to get on the road again, just whisk the covering away and voilà! Pristine windows and no scraping! Good enough: raise your wipers so that whatever precipitation comes down doesn’t freeze the wipers to the glass.
- Washer fluid: It goes fast but it’s cheap, so get the good stuff, fill up the reservoir before you drive and maybe even carry a gallon with you on trips.
- Your car’s finish and appearance: Take advantage of those balmy days between storms when the temps climb into the stratosphere – 5 or 10 degrees above freezing, we mean – to give your car a quick bath. A 3-minute spray-rinse removes the worst of the road grit, salt and street grime from the wheel wells, undercarriage, windows and paint. Use a couple of clean old towels to wipe it dry, then stand back and admire your date-ready chariot.
- In your trunk: In addition to an ice scraper, you should consider packing jumper cables, flares, snow brush, mini shovel, winter gloves & hat, 12V DC air compressor, energy bars, a can of de-icer for door locks and a can of fix-a-flat.
- Car cell phone charger: In. The. Car. It will do you absolutely no good on your bedside table (if you’re at work) or in your desk drawer at work (when you’re home).
In ice and snow, take it slow…or don’t go. If you must venture out, drive slowly with headlights on, give yourself extra room to stop, and be hyper-vigilant. And remember: Spring is just 37 days away.