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How and why you should prepare your car for winter weather

As drivers in Northern States will attest, winter is hardly a good time of year to hit the road unprepared, especially in an older car. Having driven an ’87 El Camino for several harsh New England winters, I know well the consequences of not taking even the most minor details into consideration before hitting the streets.

 

First, check your windshield wipers. Make sure those blades are firmly secured to your vehicle and are in proper working order. If any moisture is able to build up underneath your wiper-blades, don’t be surprised when two jagged icicles start scraping against your windshield.

While driving a few miles down Route 24 from Bridgewater to Stoughton, MA a few winter’s back, I learned the importance of wiper-maintenance the hard way. What started as a chilly winter rainstorm quickly developed into icy-sleet-and-snow-catastrophe midway through my journey. Soon, my right wiper, not secured tightly to it’s housing, started to simply slide right over the quickly developing sheet of snow and ice. Worse, this made visibility non-existent on the passenger side of my windshield.

 

Next, never just assume when it comes to your tires. On the same journey a mere 13 miles up a busy highway, I was thanking my lucky stars that I had invested in studded winter tires for my rear wheels and checked the air pressure before hitting the streets. Even though the snow hadn’t built up too much on the crowded roadway, I could still feel the car trying to fish-tail. After completing this trip, I invested in a few 20-lb sandbags to help anchor the rear of my lightweight pick-up car and stacked them in the bed as well.

 

Moisture can also be your worst enemy when the temperatures dip below freezing, as cracks in either your engine block or gas lines can be costly and dangerous. Be sure there is plenty of antifreeze in your engine, and get in the habit of using a bottle of HEET gasline antifreeze every time you fill up to prevent moisture-related freezing.

 

Do you have any winter horror stories that came about because you hit the road without preparing properly? Leave your comments below:

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By Death Writer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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