One year ago, my commute to work was an hour and a half, in the dark, driving along country roads half of the way. My return was the same. During the summer I didn’t give it much thought, but after a winter storm, that doubled my drive into work, I started thinking about what would happen if I broke down during my commute. There were long stretches where I was the only one on the road–and there were no stores and houses were few and far between.
I put together an emergency kit.
Simple things like a gallon of water, a blanket, extra wool socks, a flashlight, and some protein bars. It made me feel better.
Consider this: Millions of Americans will hit the road to visit family this holiday season even though their cars aren’t cold-weather-ready.
Last year, AAA anticipated rescuing 1.1 million drivers from December 23rd to January 4th alone.
So what can you do to avoid getting stranded on a dark, lonely highway, while ensuring you’re not getting overcharged for preventative work?
The car repair experts at RepairPal-a nationwide network of certified, pre-screened repair shops on a mission to help you find a fair price for quality work — have five critical tips:
1. DO AN ENGINE CHECK-UP
Cold weather makes engine problems worse, so issues that might seem minor now — like stalling, hard starting, or rough idling—could become costly headaches.
Have all engine issues diagnosed and repaired before heading out in the cold (and be sure to find a shop with certified technicians to avoid shoddy work or overcharging).
Make sure you have oil, the best winter diesel additive, and other tanks are full.
2. BEWARE OF WEAK BATTERIES
Without a professional inspection, it’s impossible to know your battery’s strength, but you can do preventative work by cleaning the surfaces of the battery and scraping away any corrosion from the cable connections and posts.
(Wear gloves and protective eyewear to avoid contact with battery acid and corrosive deposits.)
3. DO AWAY WITH DULL WIPERS
Bad wipers aren’t just annoying — they’re dangerous.
Replace old blades and make sure your washer fluid reservoir is filled at all times.
If your climate is particularly harsh, rubber-clad (winter) blades can fight against ice build-up.
4. GET RID OF ‘TIRED’ TIRES
Tire pressure tends to drop in cold weather, so check it several times throughout the winter months.
And if the treads on your tires are worn down, have them replaced.
Make sure your spare tire and jack are in good condition, too.
When all else fails, it is important to put faith in simple tools like car tire chains during snow and rain as it will prevent any serious accidents due to low traction surfaces.
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5. BE PREPARED
Better safe than sorry, right?
Create an emergency car kit with the following items:
Boots and gloves
Windshield washer fluid
Small snow shovel
Kitty litter (for traction when stuck in the snow)
For help with these steps that could save you time, money, and maybe even your life-the free resource RepairPal independently certifies auto repair shops nationwide.
They provide data on the average cost of each repair and offer trusted customer reviews — eliminating the need to shop around.