This Fall, Be Smart about Winter Driving

Getting your car ready for winter driving is often postponed until the first flakes are flying. You can drive safer this winter by checking now on the parts of your car essential to safe winter operation. 

Tires. Start your winter exam with the obvious: tire tread. Some grooves may look good, but others may be too shallow to throw off snow, let alone grip icy surfaces.

High performance, low-profile tires may need to be mothballed for the winter in favor of snow tires with more grip. Rear-drive cars especially can gain traction by adding one or two sand bags to the trunk.

Blades. Replace wiper blades once or twice per year. Ice and caked-on snow can ravage thin blades. Heavy snow and freezing rain challenge even new blades, so consider triple-blade wipers meant for bad weather. To combat frost or steam that forms easily inside a windshield during winter months, keep paper towels in the car. Remember to use heat AND air conditioning, except on icy cold days, to clear windows more quickly.

Lights. Check operation of headlights and turn signals.

Flares stored in the trunk will provide additional visibility should you have an accident.

Tools. Use your trunk to do more than haul groceries. Pack a small snow shovel for emergency digging around tires. Use a large bag or box to hold a blanket, extra gloves, a candle in a can for emergency heat, an ice scraper, flash light, jumper cables and spare bottle of windshield washer fluid. Sand, kitty litter or a small carpet remnant can aid traction when stuck.

Engine. Get a winter engine check. Be sure the battery, coolant, belts, hoses and electrical system are in shape for reliable cold starts. Replace coolant every other year or each fall if you do a lot of driving. Also consider a tuneup. New spark plugs, lighter winter-weight motor oil and new battery are often cheaper than a tow or jump start.

Paint. Autumn is the time to thoroughly wash your car and touch-up sheet metal dings to avoid rust. Once rust begins it’s hard to remedy. When paint is dry, wax the car for additional protection.

Rust can also form inside the car. Plastic or rubber mats are preferable to carpets, which retain moisture and come into contact with the metal floor of your car.

Insurance. Accidents are becoming more expensive. Accident victims are more likely to sue. So your coverage limits for bodily injury or personal property may be out of date or based on inadequate minimal state standards. In addition to increasing your limits, you might want to add an umbrella policy, which is special additional coverage that could protect you following a serious accident.

For more information about how to protect your home and car against current and emerging risks, contact Hartland Insurance Group.