This is the beginning of the Auto Savings Series.

The winter months are here for some and rapidly approaching others. Is your car ready? Winter can cost you a fortune in repairs if your car is not winterized or you are not ready to drive in wintry conditions. Follow the three “P”s: Prepare, protect and prevent.

1. Prepare

  • An automotive tire tread typically ranges from...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Maintain your car to perform under cold conditions. 

  1. Check your battery (plus cables and terminals), windshield wipers, heater and tire tread.
  2. Add no-freeze (or de-icing) windshield wiper fluid to the washer reservoir.
  3. Level your antifreeze.
  • Stock your car with breakdown essentials in case of bad road conditions or an accident:
  1. SureFire U2 digital variable-output LED flashl...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Jumper cables

  2. Flashlight
  3. Flares
  4. Ice scrapers and snow brush
  5. Sand or cat litter
  6. Shovel
  7. Blankets (one per passenger)

The first three need to always be in your trunk. The last four are winter necessities. 

(1-3) If your car stalls, make sure other motorists can see you:

  1. Turn on hazard lights.
  2. Put flares out around the vehicle.
  3. Turn on the dome light.
  4. Carry a flashlight.
  5. Attempt to restart the car.
  6. If it still will not start, call for motorist assistance, emergency roadside service or enlist someone who stops to help.
  7. Use jumper cables to restart the car.

(4) You need ice scrapers and a snow brush. Ice builds up on the windshield while you are parked. Brush snow off the hood to prevent it from flying onto the windshield and refreezing.

(5) Sand or cat litter helps you gain traction on an icy road or parking lot.

Snow in a spade

Image via Wikipedia

(6) If you did not control your skid and slid into a snow bank, dig out your tires with the shovel. If you cannot dig it out, shovel  a clear path for the exhaust, so you can stay warm in the car until help arrives.

(7) You checked the heater,  and it worked. Why blankets? In the event of an accident or breakdown, you cannot guarantee the heater will function properly. Hypothermia can render you helpless in as little as 15 minutes.

  • Plan your route. 
  1. Avoid roads where accidents occur on clear days. They will be more dangerous in winter. If you must drive in these areas, be overly cautious.
  2. Plan the time of the trip and add ten minutes. No one will ever fire you for being early.
  3. Check the weather. On snow days, allow one extra minute per mile to account for traffic not as winter savvy as you. Leave five minutes earlier for sleet.
  4. Tell someone your route and ETA. Agree to a time when they will call for help if you have not arrived.

2. Protect

  • Buckle your seat belt.
  • Use child safety seats, booster seats and child restraints properly.
  • Never place a rear-facing infant car seat in the front seat.
  • Keep children under 12 years old buckled up in the backseat.

3. Prevent

  • Road Sign GrammarYou are best person to prevent accidents.
  • Drive with day lights or running lights during daylight hours.
  • Never mix alcohol or drugs with driving. If you are taking prescription drugs or planning to drink, designate a driver.
  • Slow down.
  • Increase the distance between you and other cars.
  • Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Share the road courteously.
  • Avoid fatigue by getting plenty of rest.
  • Driving over long distances, stop every 3 hours. When possible, alternate drivers at each stop.

All drivers have the responsibility to drive safely. Driving in the snow, sleet and ice does not have to be difficult: 3 “P”s


NEXT: Are you bald?
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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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Where did you first drive in the snow or ice?

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