Prevention is bet­ter than re­cov­ery

The Compass - - Editorial -

Win­ter driv­ing can be risky and is hard on your ve­hi­cle and its en­gine. Pre­pare for win­ter in the fall, by get­ting a com­plete checkup of your ve­hi­cle. Get­ting your ve­hi­cle ready for win­ter driv­ing is as sim­ple as fol­low­ing these guide­lines:

Bat­tery: Your mo­tor needs a fully charged bat­tery to start in cold weather. Clean bat­tery posts and check the charg­ing sys­tem and belts in ad­di­tion to test­ing your bat­tery in the fall and spring. Re­place weak bat­ter­ies be­fore they fail.

Ig­ni­tion sys­tem: Re­place de­fec­tive ig­ni­tion wires, cracked dis­trib­u­tor caps and worn spark plugs, since they can make start­ing dif­fi­cult or may cause a sud­den break­down.

Lights: Make sure all lights work and that your head­lights are prop­erly aimed.

Brakes: Check or ser­vice your brakes. Pulling, change in pedal feel or un­usual squeal­ing or grind­ing may mean they need re­pair.

Tires: Check pres­sures of­ten, es­pe­cially be­fore any high­way driv­ing. Prop­erly in­flated, high­qual­ity win­ter tires will give you the best trac­tion on win­ter roads and will in­crease fuel ef­fi­ciency. A tire that has good pres­sure when checked in a warm garage will be un­der-in­flated when it is below zero out­side, be­cause tire pres­sure goes down in the cold. That is why you should do your checks when the tires are cold. Use the max­i­mum pres­sure amount shown in the owner’s man­ual or on the door­frame as a guide, but never go above the pres­sure shown on the tire side­wall. Check your spare tire pres­sure reg­u­larly. Since hav­ing four match­ing tires im­proves ve­hi­cle han­dling, don’t mix tires with dif­fer­ent tread pat­terns, in­ter­nal con­struc­tion or size. Win­ter tires have been de­signed for use in snow. They carry a pic­to­graph on the side­wall of a peaked moun­tain with a snowflake, meet high stan­dards for win­ter trac­tion per­for­mance and should not be con­fused with Mud + Snow (M+S) rated snow tires. Win­ter tires are a good idea, and may even be legally re­quired where you live.

Ex­haust sys­tem: Check for leaks that could send deadly car­bon monox­ide into your ve­hi­cle.

Heat­ing and cool­ing sys­tem: Check your ra­di­a­tor hoses and drive belts for cracks and leaks. Make sure the ra­di­a­tor cap, wa­ter pump and ther­mo­stat work prop­erly. Test the strength and level of the coolant/anti-freeze, and make sure the heater and de­froster work well.

Wind­shield wipers: Make sure your wipers are in good con­di­tion. Re­place blades that streak. Pur­chase wipers de­signed for win­ter use. Fill up on win­ter washer fluid in the -40° C tem­per­a­ture range and carry an ex­tra jug in your ve­hi­cle.

Pre­pare for driv­ing

- The safest strat­egy is to avoid driv­ing in bad weather con­di­tions. If you must drive, check weather and travel con­di­tions be­fore head­ing out.

- Be alert, well rested and sober be­hind the wheel and al­ways wear your seat­belt.

- See and be seen. Re­move all snow from your ve­hi­cle’s hood, roof, win­dows and lights. Clear all win­dows of frost and fog. If vis­i­bil­ity be­comes poor, find a place to safely pull off the road as soon as you can. If vis­i­bil­ity is poor, put on your emer­gency flash­ers.

- Stay on main roads and drive care­fully.

- Be pre­pared to make a call. Take a fully charged cell­phone with you.

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