10 things to remember when driving in winter weather

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – As the extreme cold weather lingers, AAA is warning motorists to be careful and make sure their vehicles are ready for an emergency.

The Federal Highway Administration says each year, 24 percent of weather-related crashes happen on snowy, slushy or icy pavement. Fifteen percent happen during snowfall or sleet.

AAA cold weather survival tips

  • Emergency road kit – Carry an emergency kit equipped for winter weather. Make sure to include the following items:

    • Charged cellular phone
    • Blankets
    • Food
    • Water
    • Medication
    • Ice scraper
    • Flashlight
    • Hats
    • Gloves
    • Sand or cat litter
  • Battery and charging system – Have the battery and charging system tested by a trained technician. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather. For electric or hybrid-electric vehicles, several things can be done to minimize the drain on the batteries. If the vehicle has a thermal heating pack for the batteries, make sure your vehicle is plugged in whenever it is not in use. If the vehicle has a pre-heat function to warm the car interior, set it to warm the passenger compartment before you unplug it in the morning.
  • Engine hoses – Inspect cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps. Also, squeeze the hoses and replace any that are brittle or excessively spongy feeling.
  • Tire type and tread – In areas with heavy winter weather, installing snow tires on all four wheels will provide the best winter traction. All-season tires work well in light to moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Replace any tire that has less than 4/32-inches of tread (distance from a quarter’s edge to the top of Jefferson’s head). Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.
  • Tire pressure – Check tire inflation pressure more frequently in fall and winter. As the average temperature drops, so will tire pressures, typically by 1 PSI for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The proper tire pressure levels can be in the owner’s manual or on a sticker typically located on the driver’s side door jam. Also, check the spare.
  • Air filter – Check the engine air filter by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If light can be seen through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if light is blocked, replace it.
  • Coolant levels – Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. Test the antifreeze protection level with an inexpensive tester.
  • Washer fluid – Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components to prevent it from freezing.
  • Remember that trucks are heavier than cars – Trucks take longer to safely respond and come to a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
  • Tips to stay safe while driving on Black Ice- AAA recommends staying off the roads. If driving cannot be avoided, reduce your speed, keep calm and do the following:

    • Drive slowly and smoothly. Avoid sudden hard acceleration, braking or steering.
    • With antilock brakes, use steady pressure – don’t pump. Pumping disables the antilock brakes and make a skid more likely.
    • Keep as much distance from other vehicles as possible.
    • Always wear the seat belt.

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