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Tips to prepare your vehicle for extreme cold weather

Car winter file
Posted at 1:45 PM, Dec 19, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — As we get ready to experience a stretch of frigid temperatures across central Indiana, there are many tips to follow to make sure you and your vehicle make it to see warmer days.

Extreme temperatures can impact your vehicle in many ways, including tire pressure, batteries, engine belts and even your gas lines if you don't keep on top of your maintenance and keep things full.

In preparation for the incoming deep freeze, remember these tips:

Before extreme cold arrives:

  • Keep at least a half tank of gas in you vehicle
  • Check your tire pressure
  • Spray WD-40 or another general purpose lubricant into key holes to help prevent frozen locks
  • Fight the urge to wash your automobile — lingering water will freeze in your car's locking mechanism and may even make it difficult to open doors.
  • Battery Cables and Terminals — Make sure the battery terminals and cable ends are free from corrosion and the connections are tight.

“With the rain that’s going to happen beforehand, it really tends to wash away any treatments on the roads. So if that freezes really quick, that makes really hazardous conditions that we can’t control a vehicle on,” Bargersville Fire Deputy Chief Michael Pruitt said.

Pruitt says if you must travel, make sure you have a few key items in your car in case you get stranded like:

  • Sack of sand or cat litter for traction
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Flashlight
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • De-icer

Tips for driving in extreme cold temperatures:

  • Don't drive at the same speed you would in clear, dry conditions.
  • Rain, snow and ice can dramatically reduce tire traction.
  • Drivers should slow down to regain the traction that is lost due to inclement weather.
  • Do not brake and turn at the same time.
  • Asking your vehicle to do two things at once makes it more likely that your tires will lose traction.
  • Brake first, then turn, then accelerate.
  • Don't follow behind other vehicles as closely as you would when driving in clear, dry conditions.
  • Your vehicle needs more time to slow down on slippery road surfaces.
  • Increase following distances to a minimum of 5-6 seconds.
  • Always keep open space to at least one side of your vehicle, in case you need to make an emergency lane change maneuver.
  • Don't be rough with your steering, acceleration and braking.
  • If you're not gentle with steering, acceleration and braking, your vehicle's balance can be negatively affected, which will increase the chances of your vehicle going into a spin.
  • Always steer, accelerate and brake smoothly.
  • Don't hit the brakes if you start to skid.
  • Slamming on the brakes can make the skid even worse.