Is your car prepared for winter driving hassles?

Nichole Griffith

Nichole Griffith

Now that winter and holiday seasons are upon us, chances are you will be doing a little more driving, and now is the time to have your car tuned up before the full force of a South Dakota winter hits.

A mechanic should check the following on your car during a winter tune-up :battery, antifreeze, wipers, ignition system, thermostat, lights and hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes defroster and oil level.

“Basic car maintenance includes regular oil changes, tire rotation and balance and watching the air pressure in your tires,” said Jack Lundell with Big O Tires in Brookings. He also noted that the biggest mistake he has seen is people not watching their air pressure in their tires before taking long trips.

When it comes to driving in the snow, remember to do everything slowly. While you may be able to maintain control of your car, everyone else out and about might not be able to. .Accelerate, brake and turn slowly and anticipate turns and stops. Go slowly and leave plenty of distance between you and other cars. Rapid movements can lead to skids and loss of control.

Before you head out in the winter time, make sure you have a winter survival kit in your car. A kit should have a large snow brush and ice scraper, a shovel, a bag of sand or cat litter to help with traction, and extra windshield washer fluid, but that is just for your car.

For the human side of a winter survival kit, have flashlights with extra batteries, first aid kit, blankets or sleeping bags, extra set of mittens, hats and scarves, rain gear, shovel, jumper cables, bottled water, cards or books, and non perishable, high calorie foods to provide energy.

Bad hoses, belts, water pump, spark plug wires and distributor caps could leave you stranded in winter. Remember that your battery will loose a small amount of power as the temperature drops. So, you need more power to start your car in winter but you will also get less power from the same old battery.

If you have leaks in your cooling system, have them repaired soon. Cars can overheat in the winter if they run low on or out of coolant. Overheating can cause engine damage and no coolant means no heat for your car.

As for windshield wipers, consider investing in ones that have a rubber covering to keep ice from collecting on the blade. Take them off in the spring as they are heavier and could possibly wear your wiper motor if they are used all summer.

Keep your windshield washer fluid reservoir full. On a snowy or slushy day, you could use up to a half gallon of the popular liquid. If you plan on traveling to a colder region, you may want to supplement your washer fluid with some concentrate.

Always keep your gas tank at least half full during the winter months because if you get stranded, your engine will be your only source of heat. If you do find yourself stranded run your car for ten minutes every hour or so to keep the engine warm, but also crack a window to provide ventilation.

Winters in the Midwest tend to have a lot of snow or none at all. But if you find yourself driving more than usual, consider investing in four good snow tires, as they will provide better traction while braking and turning than regular tires.