Winter in Chicago; Credits: BlueEyedA73
Old man winter is on his way. He’s packed his bags and is planning on staying at your house. Whether he plans on an extended visit or a short stay, being prepared for his arrival is key to survival, especially when he asks for a ride.
Ok, while we all know he’s not really a person, the arrival of winter for drivers can be just as annoying as an uninvited guest and as dangerous as riding a bull while wearing a red jumpsuit.
Your Battery Takes a Beating
As a mechanic for almost a decade, James Heyser has seen winter take its toll on unprepared drivers year after year. To keep your winter season from being whitewashed with disaster make sure your vehicle is ready for the cold with an all-out polar bear makeover from Berman’s Auto Group.
Stranded in the cold, shivering in the car while the snow continues to fall. Darkness surrounds the moon, as the only light for miles disappears.
While you’ve seen this scene on TV, it does have a chance to turn into a reality you don’t want to star in. Our expert mechanics with decades of combined experience agree that this ‘tis the season’ when the most cars are brought into service for battery issues.
According to James, making sure your battery has enough juice to jolt your vehicle out of a cold slumber is a crucial pre-winter checkup.
“Cold is very hard on your battery. It’s harder to start when it’s cold, especially if your battery is 4 to 6 years old,” notes James. Since batteries don’t produce as much power in the winter because frigid temperatures lessen the chemical reactions that produce electricity, it’s important to have a battery that can withstand winter. Our skilled mechanics can test the battery’s efficiency and replace it before it leaves you stranded. “After the first snow, we have so many people in our service department that were towed here because their car wouldn’t turn on,” warns James.
Put Your Tired Tires to Bed
While your wheels are important all year round, tires make all the difference between stormy seas and smooth sailing during the winter months. While a select few deck their car with seasonal tires, most opt for an easy all-year version. While both options are fine, make sure your tires have enough tread and keep them properly inflated during the ride through winter since the air contracts as the days get shorter and colder. Keeping your tires properly inflated can result in fewer trips to the gas pump, better handling and ultimately lessen the chance of premature tire wear.
When tires have excessive or uneven tread, accident risk rate can increase greatly. This risk is even higher for these unsuspecting low-tread drivers when old man winter brings his friends, sleet and snow to tag along.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
|Your Suspension’s Worst Enemy; Credits: The Tire Zoo|
Now is the best time to make sure your car is ready for winter’s cold embrace, says James. Have your vehicle’s fluids (ie: coolant) checked along with everything else to ensure that your engine, as odd as it sounds, won’t overheat in the cold.
After winterizing your car, the next important step is to winterize your driving skills. It’s no coincidence that after the first snow of the season accidents and maniacal driving seem to be at every corner. People simply forget after months of driving on clear roads how to drive in snowy or icy conditions. James says the first step is to just keep your eyes peeled.
“Drive cautiously and drive defensively. Please watch out for potholes too. So many people hit potholes and end up breaking rims, blowing a tire or messing up their suspension and alignment,” he warns.
Potholes are a leading cause in vehicle damage during the winter months according to our mechanic team and they can also cause accidents when drivers swerve abruptly to avoid them. B sure to keep your eyes around 12 second ahead of your tires to avoid hazardous swerving.
In case something does happen along the way, make sure to keep an emergency kit in your car throughout winter:
WINTER CAR KIT:
+A small water bottle unfilled. –use this to gather small bits of clean snow for drinking. It’s easier to warm up small bits of snow using body heat or air the heater in your vehicle than trying to melt a whole frozen bottle.
+A sleeping bag or large, thick blankets.
+ An LED flash light. An LED flash light will keep you visible to rescue workers or other drivers in less than visible conditions.
+ Kitty litter, salt or sand. The benefits of this are twofold as it can serve as either an added weight for a traction boost in rear wheel drive cars, or it can be sprinkled on the ground for extra grip when you need to go.
Pretty, But Dangerous; Credits: Tom Purves
While winter is beautiful the roads during these festive months are usually ugly, so drive with care and get your car checked out by a professional before it’s too late. Take our advice and you’ll roll safely into next spring.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post highlighting the top 10 vehicles at Berman’s Auto Group for winter driving.
If you have any question about your vehicle or a particular service, contact a technician from one of Berman Auto Group’s four dealerships around Chicagoland. Not only do they sell some of the best new and used cars Chicago has to offer, they have skilled technicians who are unbiased to brands and are able to help you with all your car concerns. Contact Star Nissan in Niles, Mid City Subaru Chicago, Berman’s Infiniti of Chicago or Mid City Nissan Chicago today.
Rachel Lemieux: firstname.lastname@example.org