Whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not, winter is still upon us, and so are 4 simple tips to help you avoid costly car repairs. It really doesn’t matter if the infamous groundhog predicts 6 more weeks of cold, miserable weather or an early spring, the fact is, you can still be the victim of a budget-breaking car repair associated with winter driving, including some that could result in higher auto insurance rates.
How is that possible, you ask? It’s actually quite easy. An unmaintained vehicle can become an unsafe vehicle. And, let’s face it: many drivers take their car for granted. As long as they start up, especially if they’re unfamiliar with winter car maintenance, they just assume everything’s fine – when it may not be – and, they potentially place their safety at risk every time they drive away from the curb or out of the driveway.
Of course, there’s never a good time to experience a major mechanical breakdown, but winter is without a doubt the worst season of the year to have one. By following the 4 simple tips below you can help reduce your risk of expensive repairs during the time remaining.
1. Keep an eye on your tires – Check your tires regularly when the temperature drops and conditions get nasty. Most people ignore this. Fact: for every 10 degrees the temperature drops, your tire pressure drops approximately one pound. Also, be aware that summer or all-season tires do not perform at a high level in cold temperatures. Maintain proper tire pressure to improve your fuel economy and give your vehicle’s tires better traction on slippery roads.
2. Don’t ignore your fluids – Not maintaining the proper fluid levels could lead to a variety of costly repairs. Coolant should be the correct mixture of antifreeze and water as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Don’t over fill or under fill the reservoir or that could result in overheating the engine, even in winter. Furthermore, keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the cold winter months to prevent fuel lines from freezing. And, if extreme temperatures are common where you live, consider using a lighter-weight or synthetic engine oil to help reduce the wear and tear on engine components. As for your windshield washer fluid, maintain a full reservoir so your washer pump continues to operate without possible damage.
3. Keep an eye on the road – This seems like a no-brainer, but winter presents all sorts of potential hazards that may not be problems the rest of the year. Snow, ice, and heavy rains can deteriorate asphalt, creating massive potholes and deep ruts that can cause suspension nightmares for your vehicle. Unbalanced tires, bent rims, broken springs, shocks and axles as well as knocking front end alignments out of whack, ruining a perfectly good set of tires, are just a few of the winter repairs awaiting you. Obviously, the idea is to avoid potholes, but sometimes you just can’t and the end result could be loss of proper steering and an accident. In addition, watch out for snow and hidden ice on the highway, especially on bridges and overpasses as they have a tendency to freeze before pavement does. Therefore, use extra caution when driving over them.
4. Avoid getting stuck – This one isn’t always easy, but avoid pulling off the road with excess snow on the ground. If you happen to get stuck and can’t get out, first try to dig yourself out. It’s a better alternative to rocking the car in forward and reverse for a long period of time to get unstuck. Today’s transmissions can be severely damaged when wheels spin at high speeds and repairs could run into the thousands of dollars. If all else fails, and you’re in an accessible area, call the auto club. Just be prepared to sit and wait.
Remember – while you can’t do anything about the weather – you can keep your vehicle in proper working order and use extra caution behind the wheel to avoid costly winter repairs.
You may also want to make sure you’re getting the best rate on your auto insurance. Why not get a free auto insurance quote today?
Are you a stickler for winter safety by maintaining your vehicle? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.