In the coming weeks, Winter is due to grace the Pacific Northwest. The stretch between Halloween and Thanksgiving weekend usually marks the opening of the winter ski season as a few resorts open their doors and welcome ski enthusiasts. Although peak snowfall won’t come around until at least December, avid skiers are eager to bring their gear out of hibernation and feel that snowy crunch under their boots. Before packing up your off-road vehicle to relish in the fresh powder on the slopes, ensure that your car is ready for the onset of winter driving conditions.

Basic Winter Checkupsnow-heart-on-car-rear-window

A basic winter checkup is always advised before winter officially arrives. Safeguard your car and yourself against winter driving hazards by making sure you have fully prepped your car. Besides taking your car in to receive regular maintenance, you should consider the following precautions:

Load your car with emergency equipment like a fleece blanket, bottles of water, warm gloves, a First-Aid kit, jumper cables, a spare cell phone charger and flares in case you get stuck in the dark on a snowy road.

Have your fluids checked. All brake fluid, coolant, and even wiper fluids should be resistant to freezing. Get an oil change to a lower viscosity oil that works specifically for winter. Some sources suggest leaving your gas tank half empty to prevent a fuel line freeze. If you have a long way to travel, this may not be wise. Ask your mechanic for a recommendation.

Upgrade to winter wipers and tires. If you wait until winter to stock up on new tires, chains, and a new battery, supply will be low and demand will be high. Expect to wait longer and pay more for these vital parts.

Check tire pressure daily. A fall in temperature of 10 degrees or more can cause a constriction of the air in your tires. This temperature change can occur overnight. The right tire pressure is fundamental to proper handling.

Quick Tips

When temperatures are near or below freezing, it’s common for people to let the engine run to warm up the fluids. This actually comforts us more than the car. For best results, try driving your car gently upon starting the engine. The oil will heat up more rapidly driving at low speeds without suddenly accelerating than just letting the engine run.

Batteries can often fail simply because of the extreme cold. The best thing to do is keep your car in a garage whenever it’s parked. If this isn’t an option, try parking as near to a building as possible, covering the battery in a blanket, or covering the entire hood. To reduce the chances that your car won’t start, you may want to turn it on every few hours while at work and run it for a few minutes.

Be sure your headlights are clear. If they have yellowed or fogged up, you can try to clean them with toothpaste or have them replaced at the shop. Visibility is essential for safe driving on dark, snowy roads.

Grease up or apply silicone spray around all windows and door hinges, especially around the door latch and lock assemblies in order to repel water. This practice greatly reduces your chances that your doors and windows will freeze shut.

Stay Safe!small-car-buried-in-snow

Now that your car is prepped for winter, remember that actually driving in the snow and on icy roads is one of the riskiest things you can do at this time of year.  For the most part, Portland does not see much snowfall. In fact, the average snow we do get is only 3 inches, compared to the national average of 25 inches. We do get several days of rain, and freezing rain is a serious hazard in Oregon. In the winter season of 2009-2010, Oregon had 17 fatalities due to freezing rain, one of the highest in the nation.

By prepping your car, you have greatly reduced many risks, yet human error on the road is impossible to prevent if you catch yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you catch yourself in a serious car wreck this winter, do not proceed without getting medical attention, exchanging insurance information with other drivers involved, and taking photographs of the accident and your injuries if possible. Getting RizkLaw involved is the first step toward receiving the compensation you deserve. Call (503) 245-5677 for a free consultation.