Winter Weather Driving Tips
Survival Tips for an Oregon Winter
Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts as we head into the winter, this list is designed to keep you safe, warm and sane in what can be some of the most trying driving scenarios.
1. Buy a spare fleece throw blanket, first aid kit and flares if you don’t already have them, this is the easy part, remembering you have them is the hard part! Here’s a helpful hint: if you have Google calendar, Outlook or some other digital calendar set a reoccurring event reminder for every three months to remind you that you have these items in your car, keeping it in the front part of your brain will help remind you in the event you need these items that you do have them. Gloves, a warm hat, energy bars, bottled water, a cell phone charger are all additional items that are good to have on hand and don’t take up much space.
2. Make sure your vehicle is ready for freezing temperatures; We can check your coolant’s freezing point, no charge, just stop by. We also check every vehicle that’s in for service. If your coolant mixture is weak it can freeze causing serious engine damage. A full winter check-up is $49.95 and includes checking all fluids, courtesy top off of consumable fluids (washer fluid, brake fluid, coolant) We’ll also test your brake fluid, clean your sunroof drains and lube your door hinges/door latches.
3. Spray WD-40 into your door latch assemblies and lock assemblies, WD-40 will repel water/condensation which can freeze and cause the lock or door latch to be inoperable
4. If you’re parking outside it’s a good idea to NOT use the parking brake, the cables that actuate the rear brake calipers typically will have water in them which can freeze the cables in the engaged position, its best to leave the ebrake down when its below freezing and your parking outside.
5. “Warming up” the car is generally useless in terms of actually warming up a modern VW/Audi however, allowing the vehicle 1 ½- 2 minutes of running time before driving the car when its near or below freezing is a good idea, this gives the fluids in the engine and transmission a few moments to warm up. Motor Oil and Gear Oil (Transmission) are susceptible to temperature changes, allowing them a few moments to heat up is recommend for maximum longevity.
6. Don’t get caught at the last minute needing tires, chains, a battery, etc, the wait times may be long, you could be subject to inflated prices and inventory will almost certainly be low. Plan ahead, if your car has been starting harder and harder get that battery now rather than the next week. If you need tires schedule it this week instead of next month, be proactive. Also we are fully equipped to install tires, batteries and anything else your car may need we are happy to be of assistance with these tasks (we don’t sell snow chains however)
7. Don’t use hot water to de-ice your windows or door locks, the sudden temperature change will crack your windshield especially if there’s any cracks or chips, along those lines if your windshield does become cracked during the winter wait until the spring to have it replaced, if its safe to drive. This will help you avoid multiple replacements while road debris is high with icing rocks/sand.
8. Don’t panic!! If you are at work when it starts to snow don’t hit the panic button and run for the door, remember what happened last year? It snowed, everyone went to go home and sat on the highways for four-ten hours in gridlock, long enough for the snow to come, go and melt. Check the weather system, does it look like it’s going to snow for a couple of days or just a few hours.
9. If you lose control or enter into a spin or skid turn the steering wheel with the slide, not against! Turning against the slide will only cause it to spin faster and you will have zero control.
10. Avoid high speeds, ultra slow speeds and driving immediately next to other motorists, if there’s a path in the snow/ice use it, don’t feel like you need to make your own path.
11. Allow yourself adequate time to stop, if you are unable to stop on a signal or traffic sign honk your horn and flash your lights to alert the other motorists that you are unable to stop.
12. Freezing rain is about the worst winter weather condition we encounter yearly, do not drive in freezing rain or the aftermath if the temperatures stay below freezing, its not worth the very high risks.
13. If its icy don’t drive! It seems obvious but if the roads are a sheet of ice stay in, even a good snow tire has trouble on the ice, and that’s not addressing what the guy next to you has on his/her car for traction. Typically what happens is we’ll get a snow or ice storm and everyone will stay home even if the snow/ice was very minor, after a day or two its likely going to be necessary to venture out, whether your required to go in to work or simply need to stock up on food. Depending on the weather system this may be the worst time to go out if we have a heavy ice pack on the road, add to that that other motorists (most likely not properly skilled or equipped to drive in winter conditions) are also out on the road and you’ve got recipe for disaster. Be safe! Use vacation days for time missed at work, stock up on non-perishable meals. If your neighbors have ventured out past your neighborhood ask them how conditions are.
14. If you are in an accident make sure everyone is safe, get the vehicles out of the road way (if possible) and call 911, even if the accident is minor you’ll likely want to notify your insurance company and have the police involved. Too often accidents that don’t get reported with promises of “my brothers uncles second cousin can fix this” are never properly resolved. Having the police assist will make sure the other party is credible and accountable for their liability. If the accident is minor enough that you don’t feel you need to notify the police be sure and get the other parties insurance information, their driver’s license number and address – ask to see their actual driver’s license and offer to show them yours as well, again this will help you avoid any surprises. Also take photos from the accident scene, the collision, where it occurred, the people in the vehicle that you hit or hit you (particularly the driver) this is all for your protection the number of uninsured/unlicensed motorists on the road is staggering.