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Is your car set for winter?

Posted on October 18, 2012
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Winter driving tips

Driving in the winter means dealing with snow-sleet-and-ice that can lead to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions, hot tempers and unforeseen dangers. Use these suggestions from the National Safety Council to help you make it safely through the winter.


At any temperature -- 20° F below zero or 90° F above -- weather affects road and driving conditions and can pose serious problems. Before heading out the door, it's important to monitor forecasts on the Web, radio, TV, cable weather channel, or in the daily papers.

Your Car

Prepare your vehicle with a winter checkup that includes:

  • Checking the ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts.
  • Changing and adjusting the spark plugs.
  • Checking the air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve.
  • Inspecting the distributor.
  • Checking the battery.
  • Checking the tires for air, sidewall wear and tread depth.
  • Checking antifreeze levels and the freeze line.

Your vehicle should also have a tune-up (check your owner's manual for the recommended interval) to ensure better gas mileage, quicker starts and faster response on pick-up and passing power.

Emergency Essentials

An on-the-road emergency can arise at any time, so you need to be prepared. In addition to making sure you have the tune-up, a full tank of gas, and fresh anti-freeze, you should carry the following items in your trunk:

  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Bag of salt,sand or cat litter
  • Tool kit

Personal Survival Kit

Whether you're traveling across town or across country, keep a survival kit in your car and keep it replenished. Essential supplies include:

  • Working flashlight and extra batteries (change batteries regularly)
  • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Exterior windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
  • Scissors and string/cord
  • Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.

In addition, if you're driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap and blankets.

And If You Become Stranded...

  • Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
  • To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
  • If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
  • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
  • Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
  • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

Note from Union Plus:
  Union Plus Motor Club membership includes 24-hour roadside assistance, emergency towing, flat tire change, battery jump-start, lockout service and emergency fuel delivery.  One flat fee covers your whole family.  Sign up and learn how to get a $40 in free gas vouchers.

And don't forget your Goodyear coupon for discounts on car tune-ups and tires.

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