Winter storms and ensuing traffic snarls are nothing new in the Truckee – Lake Tahoe area, but the winter storm this past weekend left many drivers stranded in their cars for 6 – 12 hours. Holiday traffic, winter driving conditions, and road closures caused a lot of peril for drivers in our area this last week. Follow these tips so you can prepare for winter driving conditions and get back and forth to the ski park safely.
1. Watch the Weather Reports and Stay Informed
There is no reason to be uninformed about approaching winter storms and road conditions. Access up-to-date information about highway conditions and weather forecasts here. And, as always if you don’t need to be out on the road, don’t risk it.
2. Put a Winter Supply Box in Your Car
This is the single most important thing you can do for your car and for your personal safety. Having a box full of winter supplies in your trunk can make all the difference when something goes wrong while traveling on a cold winter day.
Here’s a quick list of items you should include in that box: a flashlight, road flares, a first-aid kit, a few blankets, a change of warm clothes for the driver, a few extra pairs of gloves, a radio, a charged cellphone for 911 calls, a bag of sand (for traction), an extra ice scraper, water for drinking and some high-energy snacks (like nuts or jerky). Source
3. Check Your Engine Coolant and Antifreeze Levels
Antifreeze is the magical substance that keeps your engine from freezing during those times of the year when you feel like you are freezing. Without it, your engine can freeze, leaving you in a real pickle at a time when it’s dangerous to be stranded.
A kit for checking your engine coolant levels is available at almost every auto supply store. Using that kit can let you know quickly if you have an appropriate coolant mix. You can also directly check your antifreeze levels by following the instructions in your car’s manual. Adding more antifreeze is very simple, too, if you need to do it.
4. Check Your Tire Pressure, Tread and Carry Chains
Many of the issues this last weekend were caused by drivers out with bald tires, and no access to chains. Good tires are the key to staying on the road and keeping safe when the weather is questionable. Ensure your tires are in good shape and carry chains.
5. Use Winter Windshield Wiper Fluid
Not all windshield wiper fluid is the same. The ordinary fluid that you use in the spring, summer and fall become dangerous in the winter, as it freezes quickly upon contact with your windshield.
When winter comes, switch out your fluid for “winter” fluid. Winter fluid is designed for the rigors of winter weather and won’t freeze on your windshield. In fact, it actually helps loosen ice and snow from your windshield, making it much easier to keep things clear.
Stay safe this winter!
Hamm, Trent. “5 Steps to Prepare Your Car for Winter.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/11/03/5-steps-to-prepare-your-car-for-winter.