A treacherous road condition during winter is a bane to all drivers. Driving through snow and sleet doubles the travel time, or even worse, you and your car can even end up immobilized because of the extreme conditions.
While moving to a region with warmer climate may be the permanent solution, there are always certain precautions that are more realistic and achievable for drivers living in winter lands. To make it through the snow season without major issues, here are a few suggestions:
Check the Battery. Fact: Cold weather decreases the performance of a car's battery. To avoid this situation, you may want to get a plug-in charger. Plug it in at night and attach it to your battery and in the morning you will be assured of a charged battery. It is also important to have your car's battery and electrical system tested every once in a while. If the battery is almost 3 years old, it may be a good idea to have it tested at local service stations on a regular basis.
Check your Anti-Freeze. Good anti-freeze protects water in the radiator system against freezing and increases the boiling point of the water in the radiator system. To avoid it from leaking, it's best to check your anti-freeze a couple of times a year. Experts also advise to change your anti-freeze every 2 to 3 years to keep it from breaking down. Anti-freeze is usually diluted with water following an estimate of 50/50 normal ratio. Check the directions on your specific brand to know the exact proper mix.
Pressure Check for Leaks. Conducting a pressure check can wash away any impurities such as rust that may clog the vehicle's system. Don't forget to inspect the cooling system for any visible leaks, especially around the water pump, radiator, hoses, freezing plugs, heater core, and clamps. If you notice that the belts are worn out, replace it right away. Frayed belts cannot drive the water pump, no matter how new or unclogged your system is.
Oil. Synthetic oil works well in both low and high temperatures. While conventional oil might lose its viscosity during the bitter cold months, the chemical makeup of synthetic oil keeps the lubrication fluid from freezing up, resulting to better lubrication of engine parts.
Tires. You may want to switch to all weather tires or get specially made snow tires for better handling when driving through the slippery and snowy roads. Keep your regular tires though because all weather tires are not advisable for prolonged normal road use. You can also attach snow chains to tires for increased traction.
Windshield Blades. Proper windshield blades can save you from a snowstorm as much as a good engine and cooling system can. Remember that visibility is the key to accident avoidance.
As for you, it's best to keep a flashlight, a cell phone, and a medical kit in your car, just in case the weather is too much to bear for your vehicle. Think of survival, so pile up on essential items that will help you get through any unforeseen accidents or situations while driving until the winter season ends.
Bianca Villares is a member of the IBC Japan Research Team. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. IBC Japan specializes in exporting used cars from Japan with regional distribution centers worldwide.