Proper Vehicle Maintenance Crucial During Winter Driving Season

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Winter weather poses many challenges for drivers and their vehicles. Snow and ice make traction difficult, and many car and truck accidents result from drivers being unable to stop. Whiteouts can limit the visibility that drivers have as they travel during storms. Even during the best weather days, conditions can change from good to awful rather suddenly. While the weather may be unpredictable, there are many steps you can take to prepare yourself and your vehicle for winter driving.

It is not uncommon for vehicles to need extra time to stop in the winter. Be sure that your brakes are ready for the winter, and know how to brake in dangerous weather. Do not pump your brakes if your car is equipped with an anti-lock braking system, as this could cause them to fail. Check your windshield washer fluid levels, to avoid getting stuck in a storm with poor visibility. Most importantly, check your vehicles tires to determine if they need to be replaced.

Often overlooked, tires are crucial to a vehicles performance. Worn tires lack necessary tread, which can cause hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when the tread cannot push all the water out from underneath the tire. If the car or truck has bald tires, the vehicle may glide over the water, rather than make solid contact with the road. This can result in inability to control acceleration or steering of the vehicle, putting the driver in a very dangerous situation.

Drivers should check the tread of their tires frequently. One quick way to check the tread is the penny test. Place the penny into the grooves of the tire, with Lincolns head down. If the tread does not cover the tip of Lincolns head, you need new tires. Even if the tread seems to be in good shape, not all tires are made equal. In poor conditions, even good tires can lose their grip. The faster you drive, the more likely it is that you will end up hydroplaning, because the tires have less time to make contact with the road.

Be sure that your vehicle is prepared to face the challenges presented by winter driving. If the weather is an issue, leave yourself extra time to reach your destination. Being a little late is a lot better than getting into an unnecessary accident.

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John J. Garvey, III
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