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7 Simple Tips for Safe Winter Driving

1. Clean your headlights. A few years ago, AAA published an article  about headlights finding that the average 11-year-old vehicle's headlights generate only about 20% of the illumination as new headlights. That leads to a lot of dangerous situations, particularly in bad weather that reduces visibility.

After a few tests the best results for cleaning the headlights came from using toothpaste! All you need is toothpaste (any kind), a soft cloth, and some water. Scrub the headlight using a damp cloth with toothpaste and wipe it off with water. This method should remove most of the grime. If this doesn't work, replacing the headlight's plastic maybe your next best option.

2. Throw an old blanket in your trunk. Even better, keep an old pair of gloves in there, too. You know I like to prepare for the worst... Having a blanket and gloves with you in case you get stranded can make a big difference in your safety.

3. Stock your emergency kit. In addition to the blanket, be sure to pack the following:

  • Ice scraper

  • Mini shovel

  • Jumper cables

  • Water and snacks (like granola bars)

  • First-aid kit

  • Flashlight

  • Sand or salt for traction

  • Flares or other signals

Be sure to think about passengers, too. Pack an extra blanket, food, and water for each person (or pet) you usually travel with.

4. Keep your tires at proper pressure. Air contracts in the cold, reducing your tire pressure. This keeps you from having the best traction on slippery winter roads. Many gas stations offer free air-refilling stations with built-in pressure gauges.

If you want to fill your tires wherever you are, you can buy your own pump. The portable pump plugs right into your car's 12-volt outlet and only takes a few minutes to fill your tires to the right pressure. Should you live in a particularly icy or snowy climate, consider chains for your tires as well.

5. Check your car battery and connectors. Car batteries more than three years old are more likely to die in the cold. You can pick up a battery tester to check them. Also, make sure you have jumper cables in your vehicle.

6. Check your exhaust. If snow or ice clogs your car's exhaust pipe, you risk filling the inside of your car with deadly carbon monoxide. Check it often to ensure it is clear.

7. Drive carefully. This should be a no-brainer, but in winter weather, don't use cruise control. You want to be able to react quickly to changes in road conditions. Similarly, it takes longer to stop on wet, snowy, and icy roads. Give yourself time and space to brake safely.

Please Remember: When you're driving at 35 mph, you should double your braking distance for wet roads, triple it for packed snow, and multiply it by 10 for icy roads. So, if it takes you about 75 feet to stop on a dry road, you need 750 feet in ice – that's about 50 car lengths.  Needless to say, leave yourself extra space between vehicles in bad conditions.

At Extra Care Auto Repair in Berlin, Hooksett and Manchester, New Hampshire, we specialize in repair services to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Stop by any of our 3 locations for a free safety check whenever you have questions about your vehicle.

Call or book an appointment on our Website, here: to keep your vehicle in top shape with expert service from Extra Care Auto Repair technicians.

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