Baby, it’s cold outside. And snowy and icy in some areas, if only occasionally. Whether you face a daily commute, have teens driving, need to make a car trip in the next couple of months – or perhaps all of these and more – read and share this handful of reminders with those you love.
- Stuck in a bad spot? Don’t spin it. You can cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your transmission by spinning your wheels at high speeds. Instead, after sliding into a snowy ditch or getting plowed into your parking spot, use that shovel you thought to put in the trunk in November. To give you traction to get off an icy patch, scatter some of that sand or other material you had the forethought to stash in the car.
- Give it the brush off…That’s right, get that snow off the windows, roof, hood and trunk area before you drive off for the day’s commute to work or just to take the kids around the corner to the bus stop. Leave extra time – 5 or 10 minutes should do it, and you can warm up the interior while you’re at it. It’s a good precaution, not only to increase your own visibility and avoid being “blinded” when the roof snow slides down over the windshield at your first stop. It also is Pennsylvania law, so save yourself a fine.
- …And watch for those who don’t. Yes, it’s mighty annoying to have to look out for the culprits, after you’ve gone out in the cold a full 10 minutes early to clear the snow off your own car. But we’ve all seen drivers so lazy or rushed who scrape only enough windshield to see straight ahead. Or, have you observed with awe the drivers speeding down the highway with 20-foot-long plumes of snow and snow chunks flying off the backs of their cars? They’re counting on the rest of us to take care on their behalf, and sadly, we must.
- True grit. Ice and snow aren’t the only hazards of winter driving. There’s also the muddy slop from melted snow and ice that mixes with road salt and sand. If only it stayed on the roadways – but no, it has to be spewed up onto our windshields, cover our headlights and tail lights, and coat the car’s entire surface with disgusting grit. To the car wash, post-haste! Meanwhile, make sure the windshield washer reservoir is filled, your winter mix includes antifreeze, and your wipers are in good shape to clear the muck so you can see where you’re going. (Wash off your headlights, as well.)
- Pump it up. Here’s the general rule: for every 10-degree drop in temperature, tires lose about a pound of pressure. If you haven’t done so recently, check your tire pressure and don’t be surprised if it’s low. Keeping it at the number recommended on the driver’s door jamb or your owner’s manual will give you better fuel economy and better traction on slippery roads.