Rules for Winter Travel: Be Safe and Be Prepared
Winter travel can be hectic, unpredictable and hazardous. And whether it’s a holiday trip or just the daily routine, it’s always a smart move beforehand to stop and take time to ensure your vehicle is ready for the road. Following some simple vehicle winterization tips can help you avoid problems that might leave you stranded during the coldest time of the year.
First and foremost, Be Safe. As colder days approach, it’s important to perform some simple maintenance. Always refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for guidance, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s best to follow these steps that address most systems from bumper to bumper. After all, you don’t want to wait until it's bitter cold outside to realize you need a new battery or some other costly repair. Start with a thorough test of your vehicle's electrical system, including your battery, alternator and starter. Extreme temperatures can shorten the life of a battery, and one that’s over four years old has probably just struggled through the hot summer. Stop by your local O’Reilly Auto Parts store and have your battery and alternator tested free of charge.
Next, check and fill as needed all fluid levels, including coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid and oil. Don’t forget to make sure anti-freeze meets lowest temperatures expected. And keep that gas tank full! It prevents your gas line from freezing and you from searching for an open station on a cold, dark night. Inspect your belts and hoses for excessive wear, cracks and frays. Colder temperatures can weaken belts and hoses that are in disrepair, so don’t wait until a preventable failure results in a costly breakdown. Replace as needed beforehand.
Take a moment to evaluate your ability to stop on a slick, weathered highway. This includes brakes and pads as well as your tire inflation. Remember that the air pressure in tires decrease for each 10 degree drop in the outside temperature. Check your owner’s manual for proper inflation guidelines. And if you have a 4WD, ensure that it is in proper working condition. Traction is key on icy roads. You either have it or you don’t. You also need to assess your visibility during inclement weather – this includes your headlights, brake lights, hazard lights, wipers and washer fluid. Keep in mind your washer fluid needs to be winter grade to keep from freezing. And if you do need new blades, your local O’Reilly Auto Parts store will install them for free.
Lastly, like any good Boy Scout, you need to Be Prepared. Sometimes even with all the planning and prevention, breakdowns still happen. Make sure your spare tire is inflated and keep a can of tire inflator/sealant handy so you can move your vehicle to a safe, well lit place to change a flat. Keep a first aid kit in your glove compartment. Store a box in the trunk that includes jumper cables, a simple tool kit, a flashlight – with EXTRA batteries, an ice scraper, some gloves, a warning triangle and/or flares and a nice warm blanket. Any of these items can be picked up at your local O’Reilly Auto Parts store, and with thousands of parts and accessories in stock, all at guaranteed low prices, we’re always here to help.
Remember, whether it’s over the river or through the woods, being prepared and playing it safe is always a good road to follow. Wishing you safe travels this holiday season from the professional parts people at O’Reilly Auto Parts. Better Parts…Better Prices, Everyday!