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Drivers should prepare for winter

Staff writer

As winter weather descends upon Marion County in the upcoming months, drivers should prepare their vehicles to handle the conditions.

Barry Allen, owner of Webster’s Auto Service, said the most common problem he sees when cold weather comes is tire pressure.

“Even just a big change in temperature can make quite a big difference,” Allen said. “That’s probably the biggest thing that people forget.”

Allen said a lot of cars nowadays have tire pressure gauges visible from the dash, which can be cross-checked with the recommended pressure for that vehicle’s tires, which should be indicated on the doorjamb of the driver’s side door. Otherwise, drivers could use a tire gauge for that purpose.

In addition to pressure, tread is a major concern for when snow falls.

“It’s just like driving into floodwater, you’ve got to be careful that you don’t get yourself into trouble,” Allen said. “It’s hard to tell how deep that snow is, just like how it’s hard to tell how deep that water is.”

He added that, while snow isn’t as dangerous to drive through as running water, the consequences of being stranded are potentially worse, given the potential cold temperatures and harsh conditions.

He said that drivers should stick to main roads, highways and other snow routes that are likely to be plowed promptly in snowy weather.

With that in mind, Allen said a scraper and snowbrush are essential to combat ice and snow on the windshield. De-icer can be used to keep the car windshield from icing over, and also to keep locks and door handles from freezing.

“The bad thing is sometimes it’s stored in the car,” Allen said. “Some people keep it in their car then when they need it, they can’t open the lock to get to it because they get frozen up.”

Cat litter can be used to help a stuck car gain traction. A rug can also help with this task; the same rug could be used on the windshield to prevent it from icing over, Allen said.

The quality of antifreeze has improved over the years, Allen said, and where people once used water for their cars, year-round antifreeze has made a positive impact for cars. Allen said unless the car has gone five years or more without a change, it’s more than likely OK.

Routine checks of fluid levels, wiper blades, and heating and defrosting systems also can help prevent a cold day spent stranded at the side of the road.

“Anybody can do it, depending on the skill level,” Allen said. For those without a mechanic’s touch, a pre-winter visit to an auto service shop could be a wise investment.

Last modified Oct. 16, 2014

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