Where did the summer go? It seems like only yesterday we were waiting patiently for summer to arrive, and now we find it has passed and we’re preparing for another Wisconsin winter. One of the perennial events we’ll experience before too long will be the first major winter weather event such as freezing rain or a snow storm. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to prepare all of your cars for winter driving by following these suggestions.
While it’s okay to jump in the car without much thought when you need to run to the market to pick up milk, it might be a good idea to check the weather forecast and road conditions before leaving town. That might sound obvious to some, but every year drivers end up stranded or in the ditch due to poor planning. So next time you take off for more than a quick trip, check the forecast for the area that you’ll be traveling to and from, as well as the latest road conditions for either Wisconsin (http://www.511wi.gov/Web/) or Minnesota (http://lb.511mn.org/mnlb/)
Have an Emergency Kit
If you live in Wisconsin or Minnesota, you should definitely have an emergency kit in every car you drive. While it doesn’t cost much at all to put together an emergency kit, it could be worth a lot if you find yourself in a situation where you need one. A kit should include things that will keep you warm, dry, and nourished should you or a family member become stranded. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have items that will help with a disabled car, whether it be a dead battery or becoming stuck in the snow. For a complete list of suggested items, visit Ready Wisconsin.
Top Off Windshield Washer Fluid
Topping off your windshield washer fluid is something that should be done throughout the winter driving season. This is because we tend to use our windshield washer more often in the winter months when roads are full of slush. Driving behind someone for an extended period of time could drain your washer fluid tank before you know it. You might also want to consider a premium grade of washer fluid that helps clear a frozen windshield a bit faster than regular wiper fluid.
Replace Windshield Wipers
While you’re topping off the windshield washer fluid, it’s also a good idea to replace your windshield wipers to ensure clear vision all season long. When choosing a new wiper blade you may want to consider a blade made especially for winter driving. These blades are encased in a rubber “boot” that prevents ice and snow buildup within the blade itself.
Check Tire Pressure
It’s important to keep tires properly inflated throughout the year as underinflated tires will wear out prematurely and will not perform as well as if they were at their recommended pressure. However, something that you should pay particular attention to during the winter driving months is that as the temperature dips, so does the pressure in your tires. For every 10-degrees that temperature drops, you lose approximately 1-psi in tire pressure.
Scrape Your Windshield
While this might sound obvious, it never fails that you see someone late for either work or school, driving down the road looking through a porthole, rather than having the clear view of their entire windshield. If you park outside, have a good ice scraper and clean your entire windshield, side, and rear windows before driving.
Top Off Gas
Keeping your tank topped off can save you a lot of trouble when the mercury drops below 32-degrees Fahrenheit. It’s at this point where things begin to freeze, which may include your gas line. While gasoline doesn’t freeze at this temperature, water does. What happens has to do with having too little gas in the tank which causes your tank to collect condensation (water), which, in turn, will freeze and cause trouble.