While the first winter weather has already hit, it is important to make sure that your car is ready throughout the season. This means making sure that maintenance is done, an emergency kit is in place for worst case scenarios and what many drivers in Pennsylvania forget: knowing how one’s car, truck or SUV will handle no matter what kind of curveball inclement weather throws at drivers. Along with taking care of tires and scheduled maintenance at a collision center in Doylestown, here are some additional tips that should help ease the hassle of driving in winter.
Scheduled Maintenance for Winter Weather
It may not seem like a big deal, but making sure that you keep up with scheduled maintenance and get an inspection at a collision center in Bucks County can make a big difference in making it through slushy roads without issue.
Most scheduled maintenance includes an oil change, a check of fluids, battery testing and testing tire tread depth and wear patterns. An oil change keeps the engine working as well as it should which limits the potential for a breakdown as old oil gums up an engine. The fluids include brake lines, antifreeze and in some cases transmission fluid. The last thing that a driver on Routes 611 or 32 wants to find out is that water has contaminated the brake fluid and it is harder to stop. Similarly, making sure that the battery has enough of a charge to crank over the engine on a cold day can make the difference between being stranded or not.
Tires may make the most important difference in how your car handles when roads are in less-than-immaculate condition. If you make a fist, that is about the amount of rubber that is in contact with the road for each wheel. Maintaining proper inflation is critical, and some drivers who have sportier cars may also want to consider moving from a summer tire to one with more tread depth. Having an experienced mechanic take a look at alignment and tire quality is a key step in ensuring winter driving safety.
Emergency Road Kits
Many people buy an all-in-one car emergency kit at a big box store and think they are set for all eventualities but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, road safety kits contain few of the things that people need if they are caught out during winter weather. The common items of jumper cables and roadside visibility tools of either flares or reflectors are a good idea, as is a flashlight. For winter driving, having a spare jacket and/or a comforter is a good idea, as are bottles of water and granola bars or other snacks that can help occupants stay hydrated and fed until help can arrive.
Specific to winter weather conditions are a shovel and either a bag of kitty litter or sand. The latter can provide enough traction in many instances if a driver goes off the road or runs into a snow drift for their vehicle. While many outlets advocate snow chains, if the road conditions in Bucks County are bad enough that you’re considering them, you are likely better off staying at home except for absolute emergencies.
Many people get into their cars or SUVs, put the key in the ignition and head on with their day with little to no idea what they would do if they had to make a panic stop or if they hit into a skid. While these situations are rare for people who are cautious and drive at a safe speed, a random patch of black ice is not an uncommon occurrence.
The simple way to get reacquainted with one’s vehicle is to take it to an empty parking lot with snow or ice and see what happens when one tries to brake over a patch of ice or accelerate too quickly while making a relatively tight turn. However, this is not going to be feasible for everyone, so there are some general tips based on how the engine powers the wheels in your car, truck or SUV.
The majority of cars on the road are front-wheel drive, meaning that the engine puts all the power to the front two wheels, which also turn to handle corners. In the case of moving too quickly for what road conditions dictate, the car is likely push off the road, or not turn as much as a driver wants to. Limit this problem by easing off of the gas, not using the brakes, until there is enough traction to continue through the turn, which also works for all-wheel drive vehicles.
Many sports cars and trucks, when not in four-wheel drive, are rear-wheel drive and they tend to do the exact opposite. If a car with thisis going too quickly into a turn, it is likely to spin, or turn more than the driver intends. In that case, drivers will still want to get off the gas, but will want to slowly turn the wheel so that the car is gradually exiting the spin after more traction is gained. This is the same basic idea behind getting out of a skid on ice in any vehicle: turn into the direction of the skid, reduce speed and then correct towards where you want the car or SUV to point.
Suburban Autoworks is a PA State Inspection Station and auto repair service station. We can perform your automotive scheduled maintenance including oil change, wheel alignment or brake service. Contact us for an appointment or call 215-345-5211.