The weather report is in—and it calls for partly crazy skies with an unpredictable front moving in from the Pacific! Weather across the country this winter, and every year it seems, is behaving just a little strangely. Depending on where in the country you live, if you want to get through our winter months disaster-free, you’ll need to be prepared for anything. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips for driving in any “extreme”—take our advice and you’ll be prepared to face nearly anything Mother Nature throws at you.
Hot Weather: Take care of your battery
Steamy hot days can take a lot out of us, but they can take a lot out of your car battery, too. When the temperatures rise, the liquid inside your battery actually evaporates, and if your battery is more than a couple of years old, you could end up stranded with a dead-as-a-doornail battery that won’t hold a charge—and may not even jump-start! If your battery is three years old or more, consider replacing it right away, because you don’t want to be stuck with a dead car on a hot day!
Cold Weather: Look at your tires
When temperatures go down, many things can happen, but the one you should always keep at the front of your mind is that the air pressure in your tires will be lower in cold weather than in hot. It’s simple physics, really—cooler air means slower molecular motion, and that causes the air pressure to drop. Invest in a tire gauge and learn how to read it. Tire pressure affects your gas mileage, tread wear, and most importantly—safety. Take care to keep your tires properly inflated when temperatures are cooler and you’ll cruise through the cold weather cool as a cucumber.
Rainy Weather: Take care of your finish
When storm clouds roll in and darken your day, take care that they don’t blemish your finish, too. This is more than just a cosmetic concern—water is corrosive, and encourages oxidation in the form of rust, which can weaken not only your car’s body but the frame as well, if left unchecked. Not only that, but those little drops of water act like a magnifying glass and can focus the sun’s rays against your finish, actually burning it! It seems counterintuitive, but in periods of heavy rainfall, take care to keep your car washed often and always use a wax sealant, taking particular care with the “flat” areas of the hood, roof and trunk where water is more likely to pool. After a rainy day, take care to displace any droplets left pooling on your finish. Properly guarding against water will preserve your vehicle’s structural integrity and keep it looking shiny, too.
Windy Weather: Focus on Safety
When most people think of driving in harsh weather, they may think of snow or ice. While these hazards are serious, driving in heavy winds can be just as dangerous. You may have felt heavy winds threaten to push your car sideways while driving before. When the winds pick up, take care to focus on driving safely. If you’re a habitual one-handed driver (like most of us), drive with both hands during windy conditions to keep more control of the car. Don’t follow anyone too closely, especially tractor-trailers and other vehicles with something in tow. Keep a sharp eye on the vehicles around you, and drive slowly enough to allow plenty of reaction time should the wind topple a trailer or cause a car to swerve.