How to winterize your car for safe winter driving

Amanda Crumm

As the winter season approaches, many drivers will soon begin preparing their vehicles for the long, cold winter weather conditions that will soon invade Ohio for the next six months.

When drivers put vehicles through months of cold weather every year, the effects of such rough treatment can result in heavy wear and tear.

Winter emergency kit items

Every winter, many drivers find themselves in difficult situations – stuck in the snow or stranded on the side of the road. When these situations occur, drivers are advised to carry an emergency kit in their vehicles with necessary items they may need.

Zimmerman shared a trick to staying warm until help arrives that he learned from his father, who taught tactical high-speed driving on frozen lakes for the military in Alaska.

“If you put a candle in your car and light it, that will keep your car at about 32 degrees,” he said.

· Snow brush and ice scraper

· Candle and matches or a lighter

· Blankets

· Hand warmers

· Tire gauge to maintain proper air pressure in your tires

· Road flares in case you get stranded

· Caution sign in case you break down because it has a reflective surface that enables oncoming traffic to easily see

· Bags of sand or cat litter. Placing this material around your tires when stuck should help your tires grip so you can get enough traction to drive away

· A snow shovel to dig out the snow and slush from around your tires

· Make sure you have a spare tire and it is properly inflated

To minimize winter’s effect on vehicles, local automotive specialists provided tips to properly winterize vehicles.

Autozone manager Matt Zimmerman said in the fall when the weather starts to cool, drivers should begin the process of preparing their vehicles for winter.

“It’s always good to test all of your stuff first before it gets cold to see where you stand,” Zimmerman said.

This preemptive test would include testing durability of the battery, alternator, fluid levels and tires, among other factors.

“That will give you an idea of where your charging system is at, how much life your battery has left and how much of a charge it’s holding,” Zimmerman said, adding that many people do not realize that they have “degradation on those systems until it is completely shot.”

Autozone will test batteries and electrical charging systems for drivers free of charge. They also install wiper blades and batteries on most vehicles. Zimmerman said the installation process depends on how accessible the battery is.

Zimmerman also suggests drivers inspect the durability of their tires.

“You want to make sure you have good tires and have good tread depth that are designed for either all seasons or winter driving,” he said.

One common misconception about snow tires is whether drivers need to purchase two or four snow tires, said Donnell Upshaw, automotive technician at Monro Muffler Brake & Service.

“Some people think you only need to put two snow tires on, but you need to put all four on,” Upshaw said. “You want all four wheels to be able to stop evenly.”

Upshaw said snow tires have better traction and better ability to stop than all-season tires.

“If you have two snow tires and two all-season tires, that could cause you to fish tail because the snow tires will stop before the ones that are all season,” he said.

Alicha Adams, sophomore business management major, said she prepares her car for winter every year.

“I always make sure my gas tank is above a half tank in case it would freeze,” Adams said. “I also make sure my fluid levels are checked and my tires are fine.”

Freshman exploratory major Weston Sisson said he usually rotates his tires in the winter and changes the ratio of his antifreeze.

“I normally change it to 60 percent antifreeze and 40 percent water so it has less of a chance of freezing and doesn’t crack the radiator,” he said.

Contact Amanda Crumm at [email protected].