With the winter driving season upon us, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Safe Kids Carroll County is reminding all drivers to check their vehicles and take necessary precautions before taking to the roads.
It’s important that drivers properly maintain their vehicles and always drive responsibly — never texting behind the wheel or driving drunk and always wearing a seatbelt.
Get your car serviced now to ensure your vehicle is in optimal condition.
Visit your mechanic for a tune-up and other routine maintenance.
Have your entire vehicle checked thoroughly for any leaks, bad hoses, or other needed parts, repairs, and replacements.
Check your battery.
When the temperature drops, so does battery power. For gasoline-powered engines, also be aware that it takes more battery power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm. For electric vehicles, the driving range is reduced.
Find out if your battery is up to the challenges of winter by:
- Having your mechanic check your battery for sufficient voltage;
- Having the charging system and belts inspected;
- If necessary, replacing the battery or making system repairs, including simple things like tightening the battery cable connections; and
- Making sure, for electric vehicles with gasoline backup systems, to keep fresh gasoline in the vehicle, to support the gasoline backup system.
Check your cooling system.
When coolant freezes, it expands. This expansion can potentially damage your vehicle’s engine block beyond repair. Don’t let this happen to your vehicle this winter.
Make sure you have enough coolant in your vehicle and that it’s designed to withstand the winter temperatures you might experience in your area.
A 50/50 mix of coolant to water is sufficient for most regions of the country. See your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
Thoroughly check the cooling system for leaks or have your mechanic do it for you.
If your system hasn’t been flushed (draining the system and replacing the coolant) for several years, have it done now. Over time, the rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down and become ineffective. Coolant also needs to be refreshed periodically to remove dirt and rust particles that can clog the cooling system and cause it to fail.
Inspect your tires.
Regardless of season, you should inspect your tires at least once a month and always before setting out on a long road trip. It only takes about five minutes. If you find yourself driving under less-than-optimal road conditions this winter, you’ll be glad you took the time.
Check tire pressure and make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s suggested PSI (pounds per square inch) of air pressure, which is listed in your owner’s manual and on a label inside the driver’s door. Tire pressure drops as the temperature drops. Properly inflated tires ensure optimum tire performance and optimum vehicle driving range.
Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times and check pressure when tires are “cold” — meaning they haven’t been driven on for at least three hours.
Look closely at your tread and replace tires that have uneven wear or insufficient tread. Tread should be at least 1/16 of an inch or greater on all tires.
For more information on staying safe on the road visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website: www.nhtsa.gov.