As the weather cools and colors begin to change across Michigan, we’re reminded that the winter season comes closer every day. And while the cold weather and snow can bring many fun activities, it’s imperative to know how to stay safe on the road and be prepared in the case of a stall or if you run out of gas. Read on for some tips to prepare yourself, and your car, for the coming winter season.

Preparing your car

Winter in Michigan can put wear and tear on many cars, so it’s crucial to have your vehicle prepped for winter before the snow falls. Be sure you’re up to date on an oil change and that all fluids are topped off, specifically power steering and windshield wiper fluid. For the former, it can be both difficult and dangerous to attempt to steer a car without power steering as its incredibly tough to move the wheel while a lack of windshield wiper fluid can leave you vulnerable to losing sight of the road as dirt and slush build up.

If you haven’t gotten new tires in a few years, be sure to check the tread to be sure they’re prepared to drive through snow. You can easily check by taking a penny and putting it in the tire’s tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires. Winter or all-season tires are ideal for making your way through the frozen terrain, and tires that are balding or don’t have good traction could leave you stranded – especially when attempting to move out of a parked spot after a heavy snow.

In the unlikely event that your car stalls or runs out of gas, be sure to have an emergency kit on-hand in case you’re sitting for a long period as you wait for assistance. A few must-haves include blankets, flashlights, a set of jumper cables, food and water, though there are countless items that can also come in handy when you’re in need. Be sure you’re wearing warm clothes, as well, whenever traveling.

Preparing yourself

While it’s smart to prep your car for the winter season, prepping yourself mentally might be just as important. Don’t rush and always follow speed limit signs when on the road as spots of black ice can quickly spin your car out of control. Poor visibility is often an issue when it’s snowing or when slush gets kicked on the windshield, so be sure to give yourself more room than usual to cars that are in front of you in case you’re delayed in seeing brake lights. To this end, cars will often skid on snow, so give yourself more time to brake to avoid a collision.

The winter season can be fun and refreshing, but it’s important to keep yourself safe as you make your way around town. Be sure to check out our other ‘Your Neighborhood’ blogs for more great tips.

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