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Preparing for Old Man Winter


Preparing for Old Man Winter
By Maureen McDonald
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

Autumn leaves are falling everywhere. When you put away the rake, start thinking about prepping your car for winter driving. You need to drive defensively while preparing for your worst nightmare. Here are some tips from Michelin and various websites.

Plan your route:

Check your local and regional police department - or better yet the state transportation department offers real-time traffic mapping and cameras - to make sure roads are open and accessible. If a snow storm descends on the town, ask yourself if you really need to run out for simple errands. When possible let someone know where you are going and when you expect to arrive. Keep your cell phone and GPS charged up to deliver alternate routes when needed.

Pack a safety kit in your trunk:

Tools would include a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight with extra batteries, tow chain or rope, battery powered radio, booster cables, luminous distress flag, emergency flares and reflectors, cell phone charger and pocket knife. If a big accident occurs on the freeway you could be stuck. If you slide off the road in a snow storm it may be hours before help arrives.

Supplies could include snack food, trail mix, extra hats, socks and mittens, blanket or sleeping bag and first aid kit, including medications. An extra gallon of windshield wiper fluid and a quart of oil are helpful additions.

Check your vehicle regularly:

** Make sure your windshield wiper fluid is filled and your wipers up to the task. You'll need all the visibility you can get in snow and rain. While you are at it, check all fluids. Keep a half a tank of gas to get you through detours and gridlock.

** Your tire pressure changes about 1 PSI for every 10 degree F difference in temperature. Proper inflation is crucial to optimum tire performance, longevity and safety. Check the readiness of the spare, especially after freeze/thaw cycles when a pothole can take out a tire in a second.

** Clear the windshield and roof of your car before driving so the snow doesn't cascade down your car hampering visibility. Don't drive until the defroster activates fully for the sake of you and other drivers on the road.

Consider snow tires:

If four winter tires would steer me clear of potential accidents in cold weather, I'm all in.