Did you know that 17% of all vehicle crashes happen during winter? Further, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, there were 33,000 crashes in 2019 because of wintry conditions. The matter of keeping your car safe in winter is a common struggle people have, and a danger often underestimated.
Wintry conditions have specific effects on your car that can lead to its deterioration. Such effects like the following:
- Cold weather reduces tire pressure, deflating them as time goes on if not maintained
- Snow and water on the road hide potholes, making it harder to avoid tire and rim damage, and suspension wear
- Batteries discharge faster in cold temperatures, and alternators recharge slowly
- Cold weather causes car fluids such as braking oil and washer fluid to freeze
- Snow forms on your car windows and removal tactics can cause damage
The best approach to keeping your car safe during winter is not driving. As that’s not an option for most people, there are a series of common tasks you can do to upkeep your vehicle.
Planning for the Cold Weather
Winter can passively damage your car more than any other season. Both driving and parking require more strategic planning and skill. Salt and ice from the roads can corrode your car. If your vehicle is not working optimally, driving it in winter could push it beyond its capacity.
Making Sure Your Home is in Shape
Even if you choose never to go out during winter, your car could still be unsafe. The vehicle will likely spend most of the time at home. Therefore, winter-proofing your home is an excellent strategy for keeping your car safe in winter. But how do you achieve this?
It’s best to prepare your driveway for winter in other seasons, such as spring, because wintry conditions make it challenging to do paving. Residential paving services will winter-proof your home by sealing potholes and rough edges. Potholes often expand from ice during winter, so you could easily hit one and damage your tires and rim. If you plan on parking in a roofed structure such as a carport, you can consider roof repair to prevent water from seeping and covering your car.
Reinforcing Your Garage or Car Port
There’re three common options for parking your car during winter: in a driveway, garage, or storage room. A garage is the most common option. You can invest in an insulated garage door to prevent temperature drops in the garage. Also, have winter-proof garage door accessories to allow accessibility to the garage. Metal parts can freeze together and lock up if there are ice storms or cold, humid days.
It’s harder to winter-proof a carport, but it’s doable. Ensure you have a cement floor to prevent moisture from permeating from the ground. Additionally, repair any cracks in the foundation. Winter will add an extra load to your roof and the entire carport structure. So, ensure it has firm support, and snow is cleared off regularly.
Cold Weather Insurance Coverage
An important but often forgotten tip for keeping your car safe in winter is getting cold weather insurance coverage. Auto insurance typically covers your car through all seasons. But you might want to increase your coverage since winter is harsher on your car. The rain, wind, and snow accelerate damage.
Winter also makes driving more dangerous, and thus more accidents happen. An NHTSA report shows that in 2019 alone, there were 182000 crashes reported to the police. Visibility reduces and makes it likely for crashes to happen. Cold weather auto insurance offers coverage for damage caused by wintry conditions.
One of the best tips for keeping your car safe in winter is maintenance and servicing. Regular maintenance will keep your car operational throughout the different seasons. One of the areas you need to be critical of during winter is the brakes. Snowy conditions reduce your traction and make stopping more challenging. Get brake service to change your brake fluid and inspect the motor and pad.
Another area of concern is your battery. Cold temperatures cause the battery to discharge fast. Ensure it’s fully charged and the motor oil has no impurities. To be precise, clean any corrosive build-up and fluid spillovers. In addition, invest in quality covers to protect your car’s exterior. You can also get car paint protection to prevent damage to the car paint.
Knowing Your Emergency Resources
Even with the best preparation, maintenance, and servicing, crashes and problems still occur. But you could be better prepared for an emergency. Have contact information for emergency towing services in case your cars develop a problem and can’t move. Moreover, pay attention to your phone battery so you can reach towing services if you need to.
If your car gets involved in a crash, fender bender, or collision, have a body collision repair expert you can always count on. While no one sets out to have a collision or crash, having a service provider will reduce the hassle and the time you’d spend looking for one. Equip yourself with knowledge about emergency response, including local police stations and hospitals.
7 Tips for Road Preparedness
Ideally, keeping your car safe in winter is easiest in avoiding the road, or carpooling. where winter causes extreme weather conditions. Your car will keep you warm while you are inside. However, if something happens, you’ll have to get out, which could expose you to adverse weather conditions. Essentially, it is not always possible or practical to stay indoors.
If you choose to drive, you can practice some safety tips to keep you and your car safe until temperatures rise. Your car will be stretched when driving because of the cold temperatures and poor road conditions. Keeping your car safe in winter while driving is still possible with these seven tips.
1. Have an Emergency Kit Ready
An emergency kit is the first rule for keeping your car safe in winter. An emergency preparedness kit will save you if you run into problems, especially winter-related ones. The items will not only help reduce damage to your car, but they will also keep you safe. For example, having a bag of sand in the boot will help your car gain traction on an icy pathway. Similarly, a shovel will help you scrap ice and clear an ice blockage.
Your emergency kit should also include helpful things, such as a phone charger, high-energy snacks such as nuts, and warm clothes or a blanket. In an emergency, you can easily access your kit before help comes. If you travel at night, have flashlights with extra batteries.
2. Keeping Your Fuel Guage High
You have probably heard that your gas should be full when you drive during winter. Gas doesn’t freeze because of its chemical properties, however, low temperatures encourage condensation, and water droplets can freeze inside your fuel tank. If you fill up your gas tank often, the fuel replaces the humid air, reducing the chances of condensation.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends plugging in an electric vehicle overnight to reduce drain. While driving in cold temperatures, the battery keeps the vehicle warm and expends more energy than at warmer temperatures. An optimally working battery will keep you warm during winter drives while also keeping the car warm.
3. Read Weather Reports and Local Travel Advisories
One of the most obvious ways of keeping your car safe during winter is observing weather conditions. In most places, governmental institutions will offer driving advisories communicated through the media if conditions are predicted to become especially dangerous. Don’t ignore such advisories. If a snowstorm is brewing and the local news advises against traveling during certain hours, it’s best to wait until the storm is over.
Sometimes your life might be safe, but your car may take a beating from the harsh weather, costing you thousands of dollars to repair. In other cases, you might end up stuck in traffic for long hours when you could have just waited for the storm to pass.
4. Keep a Safe Distance from Other Vehicles
It’s always best driving behavior to keep a safe distance from other drivers, regardless of the season. According to the NHTSA, tailgating- a practice of following the front driver at close range, is one of the leading types of accidents, accounting for 32% of all motor vehicle crashes. During winter, it is even more pronounced that you should keep a safe distance from other drivers.
Icy conditions can complicate keeping your car safe in winter. Braking takes longer and your tires can slip or skid even if winterized. So, if you are driving at close range, rear-end collisions are more likely to happen. If visibility is reduced, you and your car are much safer driving at reduced speed and at a safe distance from other motorists.
5. Avoid Getting Out of the Car Unnecessarily
The Center for Disease Control regards winter as the deadliest season. While summer heat waves get some people in emergency rooms, winter has a unique set of dangers for people all over the world. According to Time Magazine, 63% of the 2000 people who lose their lives through weather-related causes die because of hypothermia and exposure to extreme cold.
How is this related to your car? Besides your home or workplace, a car with gas in the tank and power in the battery can save your life if you have nowhere else to go. If the weather gets particularly bad, or you get stranded, it’s best to stay in your car unless you’re sure someone is nearby to help you.
6. Planning Your Travel
Preparedness is the best weapon to wield against winter dangers. Following weather reports, scheduling travel for times when it’s clearest, and knowing what options you have in case you run into something unexpected. If a hail storm is coming, you can postpone traveling until it passes, or get off the road until a salt truck can pass through and de-ice.
If you are traveling to a new territory, familiarize yourself with the route using whatever maps you prefer to use. If you can, save a digital map offline in case you lose cell signal, and always keep a backup charger on hand. Cold weather can also cause cell phones to die faster. Keep in mind where gas stations, coffee shops, and highway rest stops are. Send your travel itinerary to friends, family, or colleagues waiting for you. That way, they would be the first to know if something has happened.
7. Taking a Raincheck
Ultimately, you can still pause or stop your trip if conditions worsen. As it stands, keeping your car safe in winter is easiest when you aren’t driving. Don’t be afraid to pull off the road or postpone your plans if the weather gets too extreme. While auto insurance will ensure your vehicle gets repaired, you will leave with adverse effects if you get hypothermia after your battery fails.
You could opt for other modes of transport, such as a train, or cancel your trip altogether. It might be challenging to call your boss, letting them know you won’t be in, but the alternative is worse. If your trip is not urgent, you will save more on repairs by turning around and rescheduling your trip.
So, there you go with seven guiding tips to help keep yourself and your car while driving in winter.
Winter poses a specific threat to your car and you as the user. The cold temperatures affect the tires, fluids, and brakes, among other aspects of your car. So, keeping your car safe in winter is critical. You can achieve this by first preparing for winter. For example, you could pave your driveway and winter-proof your carport.
If you must travel, read about the weather forecasts. Keep your trips as short as possible and let loved ones know your location. With the above guide on keeping your car safe during winter, you can protect yourself and your car by taking the necessary precautions. All you need to do now is apply the tips. Also, remember to keep warm and enjoy winter!