Summer’s over, can winter driving be far away? Remember, last October, we had a monster snow storm so it’s the cautious driver who prepares early for inclement weather. Here are some save driving tips worth considering.
Check your tires – The only things that stands between you and the road are your tires. Now is the time to check the tread depth and tire pressures. First tread depth. Using a Lincoln penny, insert the coin Lincoln head end down into the gap between the tread. If the rubber of your tire covers the gap between the coin’s rim and the top of Abe’s head, you probably have enough tread. If it’s close, you may want to drive to your local tire store and confirm. As for pressures, Every 10 degree drop in temperature lowers your tire pressure by about 1 pound. If you last checked your tire pressure on a 90 degrees August day and it’s 40 degrees tomorrow, you need to add air to your tires.
Change your wiper blades – Sitting out in the hot sun, wiper blades dry out. If you garage your car, wiper blade tend to last longer but if your car lives outside, your wiper blades suffer from the effects of the sun and ozone. Changing them is easy and relatively inexpensive. Many auto stores will change them for you after purchase.
Clean the inside of your windows – With the low sun angle we experience in the fall and winter months, commuters often have to deal with sun glare. This can be made worse by windows that are covered with the film that comes from evaporating dashboard chemicals called plasticizers. Get a good window cleaner (experts recommend Invisible Glass), a soft cotton cloth or paper towel and clean the inside of all of your windows. Having a pair of sunglasses handy will also help in really bright situations.
Look in your trunk – If you car has a spare tire, check its air pressure. Those small “donut” tires need up to 60 PSI to be safe. Also, experts recommend carrying either flares or a few bright orange safety triangles in case you have to stop along the road. Having a small shovel back there is also a good idea in case you have to dig out of a snow pile. Old military surplus folding shoves are compact and are of very high quality. Having a strong snow brush back there is a good idea too. You run the risk of getting a ticket if you drive with your vehicle piled high with snow. Plus, it’s a safety hazard to those around you so be prepared. If your car doesn’t have a spare tire, you have run flat tires. Make sure your electronic tire monitors are calibrated properly so that you are warned when there is a leaking tire.
Look in your glove box – It’s called a glove box for a reason. Having a warm pair of gloves available will make gripping a cold steering wheel more pleasant on brisk mornings. Also, it’s recommended that you have a good window scraper in there to clear the morning frost. Keeping a small flashlight in your glove box is also recommended since you will probably be leaving for work and returning in the dark. A little light in an emergency could really help – put fresh batteries in while you are at it.
Final thoughts – Prestone makes a defrosting window spray that works very well. Using it on a frost covered windshield will improve your visibility and speed up your exit on a frosty morning. Rain-X windshield coating will make cleaning frost or ice covered windshields easier and is very easy to apply.
A little preparation now could mean a safer and more pleasant fall and winter driving season.
Please, drive carefully…
Clean the inside of your windows
Clean windows ensure better vision with fall and winter’s low sun angle. Use a sift cotton terry cloth, microfiber cloth or paper towel for best cleaning.
Check your tire pressures
Tire pressures drop one PSI for every 5 degrees of ambient temperature. If you filled your tires on a hot, August day and now the morning temperature is below 50, your tires could be 5 or more PSI lower than ideal. That affects safety and gas mileage.
Change your Wiper Blades
Wiper blades lead a horrible life. The sun dries them. The ozone makes them brittle and fall frost wears them out. A new set can be as inexpensive as $15 and are well worth the expense as you head into fall and winter. Many auto stores will install them for free with purchase.
Look in your Glove Box
Having a good tire pressure gauge, small flashlight and a quality pair of sunglasses is highly recommended. Low angle sun glare can be dangerously blinding. A good tire pressure gauge helps you keep a watchful eye on the status of your tires. A small flashlight could be useful in case you have to deal with an emergency during a long winter evening.
Good tools to have in the trunk
Most experts recommend having a few basic winer ready tools in your trunk. A small shovel can help you get out of a snow bank. The brush is needed to take snow from your hood, windows, hood and trunk – driving with a car piled with snow is a traffic violation. A sturdy ice scraper will help get that morning frost off your windshield.
Better living through chemistry
Prestone makes a wonderful product for anyone who doesn’t keep his or her car in the garage. This product, called De-Icer, makes frost disappear and will help you get going faster in the morning. It doesn’t hurt the paint, wipers, gaskets or glass in any way.
Rain-X windshield coating
Rain-X is a polymer coating that goes on the outside of your windshield and makes cleaning AM frost or rain and sleet much easier. The glass feels smoother and water, literally, flies off as you drive in the rain. It also helps make cleaning frost coated windshields much easier.