We’ve make it through the holidays, but we’re not in the clear yet.  Winter driving conditions are clearly still a factor out there, so we wanted to share some tips to help keep you and your family safe.

Preparation is key, so what are some of the most important ways you can prepare your vehicle for the winter months? Here are some of the top ways that you can get your vehicle “winter weather safe”:

Put a “winter supply” box in your car.

 Here’s a quick list of items you should include in that box: a flashlight, road flares, a first-aid kit, a few blankets, a change of warm clothes for the driver, a few extra pairs of gloves, a radio, a charged cell phone for 911 calls, a bag of sand (for traction), an extra ice scraper and some high-energy snacks (like nuts or jerky).

Check your engine coolant and antifreeze levels.

 A kit for checking your engine coolant levels is available at almost every auto supply store. Using that kit can let you know quickly if you have an appropriate coolant mix.

Check your tire pressure and tread depth.

 Keeping your tires properly inflated and regularly checked for thread is important any time of the year, but it may be most critical during those winter months. Check your tire pressure and tread depth often.

Use winter windshield wiper fluid.

 When winter comes, switch out your fluid for “winter” fluid. Winter fluid is designed for the rigors of winter weather and won’t freeze on your windshield.

Now that your car is ready for the road, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when driving in winter weather conditions that are unique.  Here are a few guidelines from the AAA:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

Stay safe and warm out there from all of us at Excel Auto Body!