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Winter driving and safety

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With the onset of winter, you need to make sure that both you and your car are ready for frigid driving conditions. To make certain you arrive home safely this winter season, here are a few things to keep in mind before you hit the road…

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Service your car ASAP

Breaking down on the road during a pleasant spring day doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially when you compare it to the possibility of getting stranded in the snow or during an ice storm. Having your hoses, belts, water pumps, spark plugs, battery, anti-freeze, windshield wipers, and wiring checked, can keep your car from stalling while driving home in the cold.

 

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Keep your fluids from getting low

You don’t want to drive around on fumes during the winter. If you get stuck, you’ll need to keep the engine on to stay warm. Also, wiper fluid can help you keep your vision from getting impaired during snow or ice conditions. Make sure you have plenty in the reserve and that it’s rated for cold weather for an easier drive home.

 

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Pack emergency supplies

If your car does break down, have snacks, bottles of water, blankets, old winter clothes, extra medication, or a flashlight in your trunk to make your wait for help much more comfortable.

 

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Clean off your car before hitting the road

It may take you a little extra time, but scraping ALL of the ice off your windows, including the windshield, doors and rear, will keep your blind spots to a minimum. If you have snow on top of your car, you’ll need to make sure it’s completely brushed off. This includes your hood, roof, and trunk. Leaving this on the top of your car could create a distraction or problem for the car behind you.

 

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Slow down

You never know how much your tires actually grip the road while driving in wet or icy weather. Driving slowly and keeping a safe stopping distance between your car and the car in front of you, will give you more time to react to a dangerous situation. Quick turns, slamming on the brakes, and fast acceleration could cause you to lose control of your car.

 

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If your rear wheels start to skid

Take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently. If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump the brakes – rather, apply steady pressure to the brakes. Note that you will feel the brakes pulse, which is normal.

 

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If your front wheels start to skid

Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As this happens, steer in the direction you want to go. Then, put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch and accelerate gently.

 

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