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Nine Ways to Winterize Your Car for Driving in Illinois




This year’s winter is predicted to be another cold and snowy one for Illinois residents. Temperatures are predicted to be colder than normal and snowfall is also predicted to be heavy, with a 67 percent chance of a real El Niño blast, according to LiveWeatherBlogs.com. There is a possibility of another year of record-breaking snowfall.

Are you prepared?

Chicago IL winter hazards

During the winter, you have to do more than winterize your home. You also have to ensure that your car, truck, van or SUV is fully winterized. By doing so, you could save you and your family from disaster. After all, a vehicle breakdown or auto accident in wintry weather can be extremely dangerous.

The following are nine tips to help you winterize your care:

1. Get a full tune-up.

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According to this Cars.com blogger, traditional “tune-ups” are a thing of the past. However, you should still take your car into your local shop or dealer and make sure your sparkplugs, hoses, belts, brakes and fluids are all in good shape. At the very least, you should also make sure to replace your antifreeze to avoid damage to your heating/cooling system.

2. Ensure your battery is functioning correctly.

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Interstate Batteries claims that a car battery loses about a third of its power when temperatures fall below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and more than half of its power when temperatures plunge to sub-zero levels. You don’t want your car to stall out. Check your battery to make sure it is clean and free of corrosion. If there is any doubt, replace your battery. It is well worth the investment.

3. Ensure heating and defrosting systems are functioning properly.

Get your mechanic to evaluate any problems with your heating or defrosting systems. You will need these systems to function perfectly in wet, icy and snowy weather.

4. Invest in new wiper blades.

You want clear visibility for winter driving. If your wiper blades are too old, however, they can fail to properly clear rain and snow from your windshield and leave streaks and marks that make it hard to see. Invest in a new set of blades.

5. Get the right tires on your vehicle.

Consumer Reports suggests that you replace your tires when the groove depth reaches about 1/8 of an inch – especially if you are driving on snow and ice. You should get your tires checked and replaced. You may want to consider buying a set of winter tires that feature a tread pattern that gives your car better “grip” in snowy conditions.

6. Keep your gas tank at least half full.

The emptier your gas tank, the greater the condensation. If this occurs in cold weather, your fuel lines can freeze and keep your car from starting, according to AAA Exchange. This is why you should try to keep at least half of a tank of gas in your car when the temperatures dip during the winter. Of course, you also don’t want to run out of gas when you are out traveling in the cold.

7. Ensure all vehicle lights and signals are functioning correctly.

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You need working headlights, turn signals and hazard lights for safety. Get them checked as part of winterizing your vehicle. Also, check your owner’s manual and make sure you have a spare set of the right fuses.

8. Get the right engine oil.

Talk to your mechanic – sludgy oil that is not rated for winter can make it impossible to start your vehicle. Consider replacing regular engine oil with synthetic oil, which doesn’t thicken in cold weather.

9. Carry along tire chains.

You may be a great winter driver. However, there are times when you need some extra help when you are driving through the lake-effect snow storms that tend to hit our area. Buy a set of tire chains, make sure you know how to put them on your vehicle and carry them in your vehicle throughout the winter.

A Final Note on Emergency Supplies

There is a far higher risk of an accident in winter weather. It can also take far longer for emergency services to arrive in blizzard conditions. So, it’s a good idea to store some emergency supplies in your trunk, including:

  • Blankets
  • Flashlight
  • Food and water
  • A small shovel
  • Sand or kitty litter (for getting traction if you are stuck).

Winterizing your car and planning for any eventuality can give you confidence that you and your family will be safe should an unexpected situation arise — whether it is a car accident, breakdown or other weather-related event. Be proactive and take the right safety steps early in the season.

If you are involved a crash through no fault of your own, contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. We can make sure your rights are protected help you to seek full and fair compensation for all of your losses.