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How Can Drivers Be Prepared for Winter?

New Jersey averages 23 inches of snowfall each year. However, that does not mean bad snowstorms never arrive. Blizzards are infrequent but do occur in New Jersey. The worse blizzard in the state’s history happened in 2016, when more than 28 inches of snow fell on parts of the state from January 22 to 24.

Even when the snowfall is not heavy, the wintertime weather can become very cold with lows averaging well below freezing for much of the wintertime. The potential for bad snowstorms and below-freezing temperatures makes it very important to prepare your vehicle for winter. This will reduce the risk of being stranded or getting into a car accident. The following are some tips that could help to make your vehicle more winter ready.

Check the Battery and Charging System

If you ever woke up on a cold winter morning and found your car battery has died, that is a common occurrence during winter. A battery doubles its discharge rate for every 25-degree change in ambient temperature. Also, cold weather makes engine oil thicker, which makes it harder for the starter to turn over the engine.

You should have your battery inspected to make sure it takes a full charge. If it cannot hold a full charge, it is near the end of its service life and needs replacement. The alternator also needs to be checked to make sure it is delivering the power needed to charge the battery and power your vehicle’s electrical systems while you are driving in winter.

Ensure Tires Are in Good Shape

You cannot drive safely if your tires do not provide your vehicle with traction. If you do not drive in snowy conditions or do not anticipate doing so, you still need to inspect the tire tread to ensure it can provide safe traction. You also should have your tires balanced and rotated to ensure they are in good shape for your wintertime travels.

If you anticipate driving in snowy conditions or just want to be prepared for a blizzard or other bad weather, you could mount snow tires for the winter. Snow tires generally have a harder rubber compound and more aggressive tread that can cut through snow and slush and fling it from the tires.

Snow tires also have a narrower and taller profile than all-season radial tires. Their narrow profile helps them to push through snow and slush. In addition, the taller profile gives your vehicle more ground clearance for when snow and slush are piled deep. It also could help you to get out of the driveway after a snowplow goes by your home.

Flush and Fill Coolant and Check the Hoses

The engine needs protection against freezing weather. That is what antifreeze does, but it deteriorates over time. You need to have your coolant checked to ensure it will protect the engine and not freeze up during extremely cold weather. If the coolant is not up to the task, you can flush and fill the radiator and engine core with new coolant.

While the radiator and engine core are empty, a technician can check the hoses for any signs of damage, cracking, or other problems that could cause a sudden failure and enable the coolant to leak out. It also helps to have a hotter thermostat installed that enables the engine to run a little hotter.

The thermostat stays closed and does not enable coolant to circulate into the engine core until the coolant reaches the same temperature for which the thermostat is rated. A thermostat that enables the engine and coolant to heat up to 180 degrees will help the cabin to stay warm during cold weather. When you use the heater and defroster, the heat comes from the engine compartment.

The additional heat will not harm the engine because of the colder wintertime temperatures. But it will help the heater and defroster to blow hotter air that keeps the cabin warm and clears frost off the windshield.

Replace Wiper Blades and Windshield Washer Fluid

You need to be able to see clearly to drive safely. Windshield wiper blades are especially important during the winter when snow, sleet, and slush routinely collect on windshields. If your wiper blades are worn out or otherwise not working efficiently, you could have a very hard time seeing out of the windshield.

Replacing summertime wiper blades with triple-edge blades can move snow, slush, and melting ice much better than single-edge blades that generally work well with rain. You should replace the wiper fluid as well.

During the winter, you always should use windshield washer fluid that contains deicer. That helps to prevent the washer fluid from freezing up when it is sprayed onto the windshield. It also can help to remove frost and some ice from the windshield while you are driving.

Make Sure Lights and Turn Signals Work

Your lights are especially important during the winter because the nights are longer and the streets could be in bad shape from the weather. If you have one or more lights out, you cannot see as well while driving. Also, if you have a brake light or taillight out, someone might not see you and could rear-end your vehicle.

Even a turn signal that is not working could contribute to causing an accident. If a driver coming toward you cannot see your left turn signal, that driver might not anticipate your turn. A driver from behind you also might not know if you are going to turn and could strike your vehicle.

Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clients Recover from an Accident in Any Season

If you have your vehicle in the best shape for wintertime driving and still are in an accident caused by another driver, the experienced Highland Park car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr can help. Our knowledgeable legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to obtain the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.

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