Auto Safety Kits And Winter Driving Tips
One of the most thoughtful gifts you can give anyone on your holiday shopping list
is an auto safety kit along with a reminder to visit a local tire store to help ensure their car, truck, SUV or crossover vehicle is ready for winter driving.
Affordable pre-packaged safety kits can be purchased at practically any tire store and most discount department stores. The best include an air compressor powered by a cigarette lighter or power port, a flashlight, jumper cables, reflectors, a spare lug wrench, first aid kit, and even a collapsible shovel.
With a quick trip to any dollar discount store you can also add other inexpensive items that can really make a difference during a winter driving emergency. Get creative and prepare a second "personalized safety kit" that includes gloves, a rain poncho, energy bars, a bottle of anti-icing windshield washer fluid and maybe even a blanket that features your friend or family member's favorite college or professional sport team's name and logo. You might also add a cell phone car cord or charger, one that fits into a cigarette lighter or power port, just in case a friend or family member's cell phone runs out of power during a wintertime emergency.
A friendly reminder to visit a local tire shop to help ensure their vehicle is ready for winter can also help eliminate an emergency phone call to you on a late, bone-chilling winter night.
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified technicians at most tire shops will conduct a free multi-point safety inspection to help ensure the vehicle is prepared for winter driving. They'll inspect the engine, major mechanical and electrical components, check filters, fluids and the coolant level, and also inspect the headlamps, signal lights, windshield/rear window wipers and windshield washer system. Those are wintertime safety items most drivers often forget to inspect. They're also the ones that are the most troublesome to repair or correct on a sub-zero winter morning.
ASE Certified technicians will also check tires for snow traction. To have adequate traction in snow, tread depth should be at least 6/32-inch deep. Most new all-season passenger car tires usually have 10/32-inch of tread. So, if a vehicle is equipped with all-season tires, snow or winter tires may be recommended. They're clearly marked with a "snowflake on the mountain symbol" on the sidewall to signify they meet a tire-industry standard for snow traction.
No discussion of wintertime driving would be complete without mentioning a few driving tips. If you're a winter driving veteran or facing your first winter in Michigan or Ohio, remember:
* Be prepared: Winter weather can be unpredictable. Visit your local tire store and have your vehicle inspected by ASE Certified Technicians to ensure it's ready to safely handle wintertime driving conditions.
* Slow down: Slippery roads make even the smallest mistake happen more quickly and more dramatically. Don't think anti-lock brakes, stability control systems or other vehicle systems will keep it from happening. Driving too fast is the most common cause of winter driving errors.
* Maintain a safe distance: Maintaining a safe distance between you and the car ahead may give you added stopping distance needed to avoid a rear-end collision on icy or snow-covered streets.
* Watch for black ice: Black ice, also called glare ice, is one of winter's worst driving hazards. It's nearly transparent and often looks like a harmless puddle. Remember, if the road ahead looks slick, it probably is.
* Remember rough spots: Ice often remains on bridges and intersections long after the rest of the road is clear. Snow also sticks longer in shaded areas. Look ahead, remember rough spots and be prepared to handle possible slippery corners and intersections before you arrive at them.
So, forget the traditional holiday tie, turtleneck sweater or fruit cake. An auto safety kit and a friendly reminder to visit a local tire store to help ensure their vehicle is ready for winter driving might be the most thoughtful gifts you can give anyone on your holiday shopping list. And, by remembering a few important wintertime driving tips, you'll also be around to share many more holiday seasons with them.
by: Wally Koster
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