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Courtesy of NOAA

It’s been a wild start to the 2015 – 2016 Winter season!  Here in the northeast we recently celebrated Christmas Eve wearing shorts while our friends in Texas have been battling record snowfall causing shutdowns of the local transportation infrastructure.  The map above shows the temperature shift that we’ve been experiencing, and it’s uncanny just how accurate this map is!  But a look ahead shows that even with these seasonal temperature changes, we’ll still see some more normal conditions as well.  Case and point, our northeast temperature is about to fall into the teens during the next few nights!

All this really means is that those of us experiencing warmer conditions will still have some wintry weather to deal with eventually.  So we’re here to run a checklist of things to inspect and consider when making sure you’re winter ready.

Tires

Car Photo 3

 

Courtesy of tirerack.com

First and foremost are tires must be inspected for available tread depth.  2/32” is the bare minimum required for a tire to produce any wet traction, but snowy, icy conditions require at least 5/32” to produce traction.  Use the penny test (pictured above) to determine if your tires’ tread is deep enough to make it through the slippery winter conditions.

Winter tires offer additional traction due to their engineering differences versus all-season or summer tires.  Tread is designed to add additional gripping points that produce additional traction, thus making winter tires more stable during wintry conditions.

Note:  No regular tire or winter tire is equipped to produce adequate traction on pure ice, such as black ice or freezing rain.  If you must drive in these conditions, be alert and take it extra slow.  If you experience these conditions

Windshield Washer Fluid

Car Photo 1

Courtesy of rainx.com

It’s so critical to constantly top off your windshield washer fluid before the wintry stuff starts falling.  Salty residue, windshield re-icing and splashed road dirt inevitably make it difficult to see.  If you can find it purchase a de-icer version like the one pictured above for added clearing ability during the really cold days.

Other Things to Remember

Car Photo 2

Courtesy of amazon.com

What you pack inside the car is just as important as the tires and windshield washer fluid.  Make sure you have a fully charged cell phone with you in case you need to reach out for emergency assistance.  Also consider equipping yourself with a car charger or external charger (pictured above) for added confidence.  Pack a blanket, snacks and water in case you’re forced to remain with your stuck vehicle.  More often than not you’re safer waiting inside your vehicle, but you need to be equipped to be there for an extended period of time.

Here are a couple of other things to consider.  Pack a large bag of kitty litter or sand to help you get unstuck from a parking spot or other slippery situation.  Pack a shovel and snow brush too.

Conclusion

Wintry, icy conditions are some of the toughest driving conditions we have to deal with when driving.  The best possible advice outside of this checklist is to simply stay off of the roads if you’re experiencing these slippery conditions.  Consider taking public transportation.  But if you’re driving take highways (slowly, of course) and avoid hills and roads not yet cleared whenever possible.  Make sure you’re maintaining your car to this checklist and consulting with your auto care professional(s).

 

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