COLORADO SPRINGS — Things are starting to cool down here in Southern Colorado as we settle into fall. And with winter weather just around the corner, it’s important to prepare your car for winter driving.
I spoke with the owner of Honest Accurate Auto Service West and he offered me some tips on how we can prepare our cars for the upcoming months. He said you’d be surprised how many people find themselves in unforeseen situations, at the most inconvenient times because they didn’t take these easy steps before winter arrived.
“One of the most important things is to get that coolant checked. We want to make sure the levels are good and that it’s rated at the right degree so we’re not freezing that engine block over the winter. The other thing that’s really important is the batteries. Hot and cold take out battery so we want to do a nice full test on your battery to make sure it’s ready to go for the winter,” Jesse Schillinger, Owner of Honest Accurate Auto Service West, said.
Schillinger said having emergency snacks in your car, along with other items is also important. “One is jumper cables but the second one is a safety kit," he continued. "You want to make sure you have a good safety kit which you can buy on Amazon, O'Reilly's, those kinds of places sell them. But you want to make sure you have the salt in there to melt the snow, you have a shovel if you need it, and of course, you have a warm blanket to keep you warm if those needs.”
Schillinger recommends ensuring your breaks are up to speed and keeping your gas tank at least half full during freezing temperatures. Depending on how often you drive in the winter, and how long your commute is, invest in winter wipers. He also says having a good set of tires is very important for driving in the winter.
Make sure you get your tire pressure checked before the weather cools down, and also continue to check your tire pressure throughout the winter season. Schillinger also recommends investing in good, quality tires. Those who drive within city limits can invest in all-weather tires. He says those who have a further commute and take rural roads might want to consider investing in winter tires. Anyone who needs help preparing their vehicles for the winter months can always schedule an appointment at a local auto shop.
Helpful reminders if you’re on the road in winter weather:
- Allow extra time. Leave early and plan on needing extra time to get to your destination when conditions deteriorate.
- Drive slowly and leave space. Driving takes longer when roads are snowy or slick. Lower your speed as needed and keep your headlights on. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Slowly speed up and slow down. Apply the brakes early and evenly to stop. Accelerate at a slow and consistent rate. Maintain momentum when possible. All of these will help your tires maintain traction and avoid skidding.
- Gas up and have an emergency kit. Keep your tank fueled, especially when a storm is coming. The more gas you have, the longer you can run the heater in the car if you’re ever stranded.
- Have an emergency kit in case you’re ever stuck. This could include water, food, warm clothing, a flashlight, charger, first aid kit, and anything you’d need if you were stranded for any length of time.
Whether you’re a pro at winter driving or it’s your first winter in Colorado, it’s still important to be prepared and take it slow when you head out for our snowy days ahead.
In Colorado, your all-season tires may not be enough. With that in mind, there are two major laws every Colorado driver needs to know for the winter.
Wherever the Colorado Department of Transportation or the Colorado State Patrol puts them into effect all vehicles on the highway or interstate listed must have either snow tires, four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, or another alternative traction device.
If you’re caught without those, or with tires that have less than a 1/8th of an inch of tread, you could be fined up to $650 if you cause an accident or block the road.
Implementation of the passenger vehicle chain law is pretty rare, as it is the last resort for CDOT before shutting down a road.
Under this law, every single vehicle on the road must have chains or an alternative traction device. The fines for violators are again up to $650 if you cause an accident or block the road.
While these laws will be used mostly in the mountains they can be implemented on any Colorado highway by CDOT or local authorities.
For more information on traction and chains laws in Colorado, visit CDOT’s page.
Everyone should carry a Survival Kit in their car year-round, but in Colorado, you need to tailor that for winter driving.
- a shovel (There are small foldable shovels)
- windshield scraper
- flashlight with extra batteries
- battery powered radio
- snack food including energy bars
- raisins and mini candy bars
- matches and small candles
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- blankets or sleeping bag
- tow chain or rope
- road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
- booster cables
- emergency flares and reflectors
- Cell phone adapter to plug into lighter