TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The saying goes, take care of your car, and it will take care of you. Auto experts say that’s especially true in freezing weather.
As temperatures drop, there are several things drivers can do to winterize their cars for the change in weather.
“Rubber, plastic, components can suffer in the cold weather, tires that may be okay, in the warm weather it may be marginal, when they get cold and hard, now they’re not good anymore,” said Gary Stewart, owner of Donnybrook Automotive in Tyler.
Stewart urges drivers to use their eyes and ears, as they prepare their vehicles for freezing temperatures.
“If it sounds funny, looks funny, it probably is, so just pay attention to your car especially in this type of weather,” said Stewart.
It’s vital your car is up for the challenge, but it’s also important you are prepared to drive in winter conditions. Experts say when you get in your car to start the engine and look for warning signs.
“Just pay attention to your dashboard. Pay attention to your cluster, don’t just drive blindly, those gauges are there for a reason,” explained Stewart.
One of the biggest changes you’ll see during colder temperatures is tires that can contract.
“Just make sure that the pressure on the tires are checked because I do know that that plays a huge role anytime that the weather drops, or the temperature drops,” said Genny Rodriguez, a Tyler driver.
Other things to look out for are coolant levels, car batteries, and low tire pressures, which Rodriguez says is important for a safe drive.
“That’s your only means of transportation for a lot of people, so you need to make sure it is good and ready to take you where you need to go,” said Rodriguez.
While making sure your car is prepared, an important item all drivers should carry in their vehicle is a winter car emergency kit.
Consumer Report lists what your kit should include:
BATTERY BOOSTER CABLES: You’ll want these in case you wind up with a dead battery or you need to help someone else with a dead battery. Alternatively, a portable jump starter is very easy to use and works well, but it needs to be kept charged to work on the road.
ICE SCRAPER: Every car in the snow belt should have an ice scraper and a brush. Cheap scrapers are commonly found in the kits. It is better to carry a combination snow brush/scraper that makes clearing snow before traveling easier. In some states, clearing your car of all snow is the law. Even where it’s not, it’s just common courtesy, so your blowing snow doesn’t impair another driver’s vision.
PORTABLE SHOVEL: These are handy for digging out a car buried by plows or stuck along the roadside, and for clearing space around a tailpipe for extended idling, to prevent fumes from entering the car. Most kits come with a collapsible shovel. (The shovels come in a range of sizes and strengths.) If you’ve ever had to dig out your car before, a full-sized shovel might be in order because compact shovels can be difficult to use on big jobs. Also, keep a bag of sand handy in your trunk to help boost traction.
ITEMS TO HELP IF YOU’RE STRANDED: Most kits come with a flashlight, and some include a signaling cone to warn oncoming cars of your presence. Pack backup batteries for that flashlight. Roadside triangles should be in every kit, and a reflective safety vest comes in some kits.
BASIC FIRST AID KIT: Most emergency kits have one for the bare essentials, such as attending to a small cut. Add things that suit specific health needs, and be aware of how temperature may affect medicines.
CELL PHONE CHARGER: Almost everyone carries a smartphone attached to the hip nowadays, and a cell phone charger is a good thing to keep in the car, especially during the winter and on road trips.
OTHER COMMON ITEMS: Things such as gloves, a blanket, a rain poncho, wipes, and rags can help you stay clean and shield you from the elements. It’s a good idea to keep a pair of boots and a hat in the car, particularly if you’re often driving in snowy conditions.