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Six Steps to Protect Your Vehicle, Yourself This Winter

FILE: Winter Driving, Winter Weather, Car Tire

(BPT) – Winter is quickly approaching and now is the perfect time to prepare your vehicle for the upcoming harsh driving conditions. Taking the time to prepare and protect your vehicles now will save you significant time, money and hassle later. Here are a few tips for vehicle winterization and cold weather driving to ensure safe travels this season:


Get a Grip


One of the most important aspects of winterization is ensuring you have a safe grip on the road. Like the soles of shoes that prevent us from slipping, quality tires help keep your vehicle securely on the road, especially in slippery rain or snowy conditions. Checking tire tread and pressure is important to ensure you have optimal traction. If you live in a particularly snow-prone or rural area, you might also consider buying snow tires and/or chains.


Prevent Battery Blunders


Just as hard as it is for you to get moving on a cold day, frigid temperatures can have the same effect on your vehicle. It might take more battery power to get a car started, so make sure your battery is up for the cold-weather challenge by having a mechanic check your battery for sufficient voltage. Consider keeping a booster pack or jumper cables in your car just in case of an emergency. These will come in handy should you find yourself stuck due to an unexpected battery failure.


Protect Your Paint


Did you know that within 30 days a small scratch, chip or nick in a vehicle's paint finish can rust? Add freezing temperatures and precipitation and these small problems can escalate to a larger, more expensive problem.


Practice Safe Driving


According to the Federal Highway Administration, crashes on snowy and icy pavement result in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,000 injuries each year. Winter driving can be tricky and requires a driver's full attention, so protect yourself and your family this year by altering your driving techniques. When a road is slick, avoid using cruise control to ensure you have full control over the vehicle's speed at all times. It's also important to never slam on the brakes, as this will cause a vehicle to skid and lose control. Instead, brake gently. Additionally, give yourself extra travel time and patience this season. By doing so, you'll be sure to keep you and your family safer during harsh driving conditions.


Get a Good View


Having full view of what's ahead and behind your vehicle, at all times, is vital, so be sure to check your windshield wiper blades and washer fluid before winter precipitation hits. On a snowy or low-visibility day, you can easily go through half a gallon or more of windshield washer fluid trying to keep your view clear. For that reason, it's also a good idea to keep some extra fluid in the trunk in case you run out. In colder climates that experience ice or frost, you may want to keep a bottle of de-icing windshield spray handy. Simply spray your icy windshield with the fluid, turn on your vehicle defroster and your windows will clear quickly and easily.


Prepare for the Unexpected


In case something does happen to your vehicle this winter and you are stranded for an extended period of time, it's important to keep a few essential items on board. Assemble an emergency kit containing a blanket, gloves, ice scraper, flares, flashlight, water and basic first aid items. Make sure to also carry a cell phone when you travel, particularly if bad weather is expected.


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