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Drivers need to prepare their vehicles for winter

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Drivers need to prepare their vehicles for winter

ODOT officials want drivers to prepare their vehicles for winter driving conditions and to drive with extra caution.

Cold, wet and snowy weather presents the greatest challenge to your vehicle and its engine. The most common vehicle deficiencies include weak batteries, worn or damaged wiper blades, clogged air filters, low washer fluid, dirty or low motor oil, and low anti-freeze levels.

To help motorists ensure their vehicles are properly prepared and equipped for winter driving, ODOT offers the following tips:

Pre-trip Preparation Before traveling to areas that may have hazardous conditions, double-check the condition of your vehicle:

  • Inspect windshield wipers and fill the windshield washer tank with winterized fluid. Properly inflate tires, including the spare.
  • Make sure you have tire chains. If you don’t have chains, buy a set now so you’ll have them for the entire season.
  • Check the antifreeze level and make sure engine hoses and belts are in good shape.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are working properly.
  • Check the age of your vehicle’s battery. Cold weather can reduce the power of older batteries.
  • Test all lights. Carry spare light bulbs.

If you are driving in areas that have ice or snow on the road, adjust your driving to fit conditions and remember these winter driving tips:

  • Turn off your cruise control.
  • If you lose traction and your vehicle feels like it’s floating, gradually slow down. Don’t slam on the brakes.
  • Use caution when driving on bridges or concrete highways. These surfaces are the first to freeze and become slippery when the temperature drops.
  • Slow down in advance of shaded areas, especially on curves. Shaded areas are cooler and may have ice that is difficult to see.
  • Don’t pass snowplows or sanders, and don’t follow them too closely. Make sure your vehicle is stocked with:
  • A full fuel tank and a good highway map;
  • An ice scraper, battery booster cables, road flares, properly inflated spare tire, vehicle jack, lug wrench and basic tool kit;
  • A small shovel, a bag of cat litter or sand for traction in case you get stuck, and a plastic tarp to help keep you dry when installing tire chains;
  • A flashlight with extra batteries and bulbs, an extra pair of winter gloves and a warm hat, a change of clothes and a warm blanket, snack foods, matches in a waterproof container, extra quarters for phone calls, a pocketknife and a first aid kit;
  • A large thermos bottle filled with water or a hot drink; and
  • A cell phone with fully charged extra batteries.
  • If you travel with an infant or baby, pack extra food, warm clothes and blankets, toys and games, and extra diapers, just in case. Remember to properly use your child safety seat.

Before leaving, tell a friend where you are going, the planned route, and when you will return. Tell your friend to call the police if you do not return on time and he or she does not hear from you.

For road conditions in Oregon, call 511 or (800) 977-ODOT (6368). Outside Oregon, dial (503) 588-2941. Reports are available 24 hours a day

« Back to the December 2006 edition