How to Prepare Your Fleet for the Winter

Posted on December 1, 2000 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

Cold temperatures, particularly those plunging below freezing, significantly influence vehicle performance. The key is getting your vehicle ready during the autumn months. It is important to check the four necessary areas of a vehicle: exterior, interior, under the hood, and under the car. Here are some basic tips and suggestions to follow. BELTS AND HOSES Check all belts and hoses for signs of cracking or wearing. Replace them if necessary.

MOTOR OIL Use a multi-viscosity motor oil. This type of oil is identified with a “W” in the grade designation, which stands for winter. Cold winters usually require a light-viscosity motor oil, but as a general rule, always consult your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

ANTIFREEZE Check the coolant level, as well as its color for dirt or rust. Also, have the antifreeze concentration checked. Most manufacturers recommend a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. With the exception of some new vehicle systems, most vehicle owners should consider flushing and changing their coolant once a year.

BATTERY A strong battery can help avoid problems. Batteries, even new ones, will lose power in cold weather. When temperatures drop below freezing, a battery could lose as much as 15 percent of its starting power. Below zero, starting power is further reduced.

TIRES To ensure that your vehicle’s tires are prepared for potentially hazardous driving conditions, inspect each tire to make sure it is properly inflated and that its treads are at least 1/4-inch deep. Also, you might need to monitor tire pressure throughout the winter months, as cold temperatures tend to deflate tires. If your vehicle is not equipped with snow tires, keep a set of tire snow chains in the trunk.

EXTERIOR TREATMENT Use the right washes and waxes to maximize protection for the vehicle against the winter weather elements.

INTERIOR TREATMENT Treat the interior with protection against the chemicals, dirt, and snow brought in from outside.

EMERGENCY ROAD KIT In case of a breakdown, make sure your vehicle carries vital items such as jumper cables, fix-a-flats, battery chargers, flares, flash light and first-aid kit. Reprinted courtesy of Business Driver Magazine. How to Cope with Snow To help motorists avoid unnecessary delays, here are cold weather car travel safety tips: 4 Clear all snow and ice from the entire car. 4 Reduce speed and increase following distance on winter roads. 4 Avoid sudden stops, starts and turns to maintain control on slippery roads. 4 Park your car in the garage. If you have no garage, select a place that is protected from wind and large snowdrifts. 4 To avoid frozen doors or door locks, buy a lubricant that is available in most auto supply stores. It is best to apply it before freezing weather. 4 Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid fuel-line freeze-up. Adding a can of gas line de-icer periodically is a good idea. 4 Pack a winter survival kit with items such as blankets, extra clothing, scraper, shovel, flashlight, and battery cables. 4 Always wear safety belts, keep both hands on the steering wheel, and be extra alert for other vehicles losing control. 4 If you own a cellular phone, make sure it is fully charged and take it with you in case of an emergency.

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