With the prediction of a wintery mix of snow and ice of the season to hit Oklahoma this weekend, now is the time for car owners to start thinking about preparing their vehicles so they can drive safely in these conditions and keep them running throughout the winter.

Each year freezing temperatures, snow and ice can wreak havoc on our roads and our vehicles. Despite these hazardous conditions, more than 70 % of motorists admit they don’t prepare their vehicles for winter weather, according to the Car Care Council. 

Take Care of the Battery:

  • Winter temps cause a car’s electrical system to work harder, particularly with the increased power demands of heating systems, defrosters and windshield wipers. 
  • Plus, the cold temps reduce a vehicle’s battery power by up to 50 percent.  
  • A car battery typically lasts 3-5 years, so keep track of the battery’s age. 
  • Battery cables and clamps should also be checked regularly for fraying or corrosion.  Battery acid corrosion appears as a white, powdery substance.  Clean them with baking soda, water and a toothbrush.    

Monitor Your Fluids:

  • Antifreeze – Drivers will want to keep their antifreeze/coolant mix at the appropriate levels to prevent the engine from freezing and reduce corrosion.  A 50/50 mix will keep fluids from freezing at temperatures as low as -34 degrees.  
  • Oil – Cold temperatures make motor oil thicker and creates unwanted friction in the engine. Consider using a lighter grade of oil in the winter months if you live in a cold climate.  It’s best to check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
  • Gas – Keep your gas tanks at least half full during the winter months.  This will decrease the chances of moisture from condensation freezing and block the flow of gas in the fuel lines.

Check Your Tires:

  • Winter temps cause the air in cold tires to contract and drop in pressure.  Deflated tires will reduce the tread and the traction of the car, which can significantly increase the chances of sliding on icy patches.  
  • Read your owner’s manual for suggested pounds per square inch and fill up at a local gas station to prevent sliding on the ice.  
  • Having properly inflated tires will also save on gas mileage by as much as three percent. 

Clear Your Car to See the Road:

Many people are in such a rush to get to their destination that they do not take the necessary time to clear the outside of their car and windshield.  

  • Make sure wiper blades are in proper working order and free of cracking or deteriorating, and also monitor the levels of wiper fluid.  
  • Clear all snow and ice from the windshield for proper visibility and from other parts of the car for the safety of other drivers.  
  • Test defrosters and allow time for condensation to clear from the entire windshield before heading out on the road.

Create a Winter Weather Kit:

  • Car owners should keep an emergency kit inside their vehicle that includes a flashlight, jumper cables, cell phone charger, ice scrapper, snow brush, blanket, bottled water and dry food snacks.  
  • Keep a supply of salt, sand or kitty litter to spread on the ground to gain better traction on icy patches.