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Dos and Don’ts for Winterizing Your Vehicle

Winterizing your car for Wisconsin’s cold months can help prepare you for situations you may face on the road. Here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do as you winterize your car to keep yourself and others safe whenever you venture out on local roads and highways.

Do: Replace Burnt Out Lights

Winter weather means shorter days and a higher likelihood you’ll be traveling after dark. Have your vehicle serviced to check the headlights and other vehicle lights to ensure they’re working correctly and no bulbs are burnt out or too dim to be useful.

If the weather or other conditions make it difficult to see objects from 500 feet away, drivers must turn on their headlights in Wisconsin.

Don’t: Forget to Put on Winter Tires

Winter-rated tires will have better tread and traction to drive on snow and ice than summer tires. In Wisconsin, you can also use chains on your tires to get better traction on ice and snow.

Ensure you inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure to drive safely. When temperatures decrease, you might lose traction on icy roads as the pressure in your tires drops, increasing your risk of skidding or crashing into other vehicles or property.

Do: Check Your Battery, Cooling System, and Fluids

Your car battery uses more energy to operate at cold temperatures. At 32ºF, a typical car battery loses 35% of its strength. At temperatures below 0ºF, the battery loses up to 60% of its power. You can minimize the effects of your battery draining in the winter by keeping the vehicle inside a garage and driving it regularly for at least 10 minutes per trip to charge the battery.

Auto shop technicians can also check your antifreeze levels and cooling system. In the winter, the antifreeze in your vehicle should be a 60/40 ratio of antifreeze to water; if you live in an extremely cold climate, you may consider using 70/30 antifreeze. Get your coolant system checked as part of the winterizing process to ensure your engine is operating at the optimal temperature.

Before the snow sets in, you should also change your oil. Cold temperatures change the viscosity of your oil, causing it to thicken and potentially damage your engine. There is also a higher chance of motor oil evaporation in the winter months. This can happen when the oil is damaged from extremely cold temperatures.

An oil change ensures the oil in your motor is free from water and acid, which are byproducts of combustion. Failing to prepare your car for the winter weather properly could result in engine trouble while on the road. Distractions like car trouble combined with inclement weather can increase your risk of getting into an accident.

Don’t: Use Worn-Out Windshield Wipers

If your old wipers are leaving streaks on your windshield, then invest in winter-specific wipers, which are typically heavier-duty than the regular kind.

Once the rubber on your windshield wipers wears down, it no longer contacts your windshield, resulting in poor visibility while driving, increasing the likelihood of a road accident. Ideally, you should replace your wiper blades every six to twelve months.

Don’t forget to replenish your windshield wiper fluid with a kind formulated for winter. Wiper fluid designated for winter won’t freeze while you’re trying to clean your windshield in cold temperatures.

Do: Clear Snow and Ice from Your Vehicle

To ensure safe driving, clear snow and ice COMPLETELY from your car windows, front and rear lights, hood, and roof. “Portholes” dangerously obscure visibility, and snow and ice left on the roof can fall from vehicles in transit and create a hazard on the road as well as obstruct the visibility of the driver and that of any vehicles behind them.

A police officer could cite this hazard as a violation of Wisconsin law. State laws dictate that the windshield, side wings, side and rear windows of a vehicle should be reasonably clear at all times.

Our Green Bay car accident attorneys can offer you legal advice if someone else fails to clean their vehicle properly and causes your accident. If their negligence leads to injuries, you may have grounds for a lawsuit.

Don’t: Forget to Fill Up Your Gas Tank

Before parking your car for prolonged periods in the winter, be sure to refuel. Running out of gas while you’re on the road in conditions with poor visibility can obstruct other drivers and increase the risk of a collision. Before driving in winter weather, always ensure you have more than enough fuel to make the journey.

Keeping your gas tank at least half full during the winter months can also keep fuel lines from freezing. While your gasoline won’t freeze and become solid, water in the tank can freeze. If your gas tank is nearing empty, there’s more room for condensation to form, resulting in ice crystals.

Stay Safe on Winter Roads

In the winter, be aware that slippery conditions are more common because of the snow and ice on the road. Properly winterizing your vehicle can reduce the chances of being involved in an accident and causing injuries.

Our car accident attorneys can assist you or a loved one in seeking compensation for another driver’s negligence in a weather-related accident. Contact Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers today to discuss your case in a free, no-obligation consultation.

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