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Preparing Your Car for Winter Weather 

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Make Sure Your Vehicle Can Handle Wintry Weather Before It Hits 

By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

EAST TEXAS – Texas weather can change in a heartbeat. As East Texans experienced last week, one day can be warm and sunny and the next could be freezing with ice on the roads. 

No matter the weather, regular vehicle maintenance is always recommended. But extreme temperature changes can affect your car, so it is especially important to make sure your car is in working order before winter arrives. From basic tasks to those that you may want a mechanic to handle, these are a few maintenance items to address before winter.  

To help your car or truck survive, check the battery, windshield wipers (including freeze-resistant fluid,) and fluid levels. It also helps to take time to lubricate door and trunk locks to prevent them from freezing. 

As the temperature falls, so does the air pressure in your tires. Tires can lose pressure at a rate of about one pound per 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature. Low tire pressure can dangerously affect your car’s handling, so it is important to keep your tires properly inflated.  

Keeping emergency supplies in your vehicle is another good idea in the event of being stranded. These could include: 

  • Blankets or sleeping bags 
  • Extra clothing including an extra jacket or rain poncho 
  • Car charger for your phone 
  • Flashlight and extra batteries 
  • First aid kid 
  • Pocket knife 
  • Compass 
  • Non-perishable foods and bottled water 
  • Bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction 
  • Tool kit, including cold weather tools like a snow brush or windshield scraper and extra windshield fluid 
  • Jumper cables 
  • Tow rope 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Shovel 
  • Full tank of gas 
  • Flares or cones 

Always monitor local weather broadcasts for up-to-the-minute updates. Should you choose to get out on the road and create an accident, cause an accident, or get stranded, remember that local or county crews must come to you. 

Make sure you have phone numbers for family, work, roadside services, and your auto insurance provider. Having these programmed in your cellphone is important, but it would also be a good idea to have them written down somewhere in case your phone dies and you need to use a landline. 

The best advice for East Texans is to stay home and avoid driving. If you must drive when the roads are icy, follow these tips: 

  • Drop speeds down below the speed limit. Those are set at normal weather conditions, not winter weather ones. 
  • Keep three times the typical distance away from another vehicle. 
  • Be cautious on overpasses, ramps, and bridges – all areas that tend to freeze first. 
  • If your vehicle begins to slide, TxDOT recommends easing off the gas pedal or brakes and steering into the direction of the skid until the driver regains control.  

Jason Jones may be reached via email at jjones@messenger-news.com 

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