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4 Timely Tips to Keep Your Vehicle Safe This Winter

4 Timely Tips to Keep You Vehicle Safe This Winter

Some timely tips that fall into the category "why make life more difficult than it is already"

Tip #1 - Most vehicles are equipped with a 5-year battery. Most replacement batteries are 5-year batteries. Unless you have a definite plan to replace the vehicle in the near future, if your battery is 5 years old, we highly recommend replacing it proactively to prevent a break down and to avoid stressing the alternator. There are several reasons why.

1) There is no test fee if the shop is performing preventive maintenance. Preventive maintenance prevents test fees and breaking down.

2) Most shops will inspect the date and test the battery condition as part of a fall oil service, and  offer an incentive to proactively replace a battery that is due.

3) It's a lot easier for the vehicle owner. Unless you are a handy person, with jumper cables or a jumper pack in the trunk and able to go home and replace your own battery. the easiest, fastest, cheapest way is replace the battery before it fails.

If you want to know how old your battery is, call your repair shop, they should have a record of when it was replaced, or, check your last  service invoice - there could be a battery recommendation at the bottom, or remind them during the October/November oil service visit.  Last but not least, if you are bound and determined to be your own expert, view this YouTube video.

Tip #2 - All season radial tires come with  10/32 - 11/32 of an inch of treat. According to the manufacturers and the DOT, tires are legally worn out at 2/32 at the thinnest point (yes, that is the top of Lincoln's head is visible when a penny is inserted between the treads.)

Save This Winter Tire

An even easier way, aside from asking your service person to check them, is to look for the "wear bars." The wear bars are 2/32 tall. If you see one anywhere on the tire that appears to be flush with the remaining tread, the tire is work out.

More importantly, being that we are already in the beginning of November, vehicle owners should be aware that all season radials start to lose their "grip" in snow and rain at about 50% worn. So if the tires came with 11/32, are worn out at 2/32, then they start getting "slippery at 4/32 - 5/32. The reason is because tires are manufactured with liquid latex and polymers. They are "compounded" to be hard (last a long time, poor slipper traction) or soft ( best traction, worst longevity) or in between. Every time you drive, the tires heat up and then cool off. That "cycling" boils the polymers out of tire, causing it to get "harder". Most people look at a tire with 5/32 and say it's fine. Just like the dead battery ta 9pm on a Sunday night that was fine 3 months ago, being unable to motor through a small amount of snow on tires that work just fine on a sunny, 80 degree day in October is not  going to make your life easier if you get stuck or slide into someone.

Tip #3 - Time to take off the "summer blades" and put on the "winter blades". Winter Wiper Blades are the same as "regular" blades, but have a rubber sleeve that prevents the snow and ice from getting between the rubber blade and the metal frame. The ice buildup distorts the blade, preventing it from lying flat on the windshield. Most shops install blades for no labor charge. Some shops will install owners wiper blades for no charge for their existing clients. The normal life expectancy of wiper blades has been 12 months in the Chicago area. As the average temp warms up, UV gets stronger, exposed rubber components like wiper blades and tires deteriorate faster. Make sure the washers are full and working. Keep a gallon of washer fluid in the trunk. Some people may not be aware that not all washer fluid is the same. Some freezes at 20 above (used in the summer to improve the cleaning action), and washer antifreeze  good to 10 or 20 below.

Tip #4 - Make sure all the external lights are working. This takes just a minute with two people. November, sun is up about 10 hours, night-time driving is longer. Aside from the being able to see or be seen dangers, some other considerations; external lights not working is valid reason for a police officer to stop a vehicle. Defective Brake lights are a moving violation. Defective license plate lights, while driving in a residential neighborhood after bedtime is not a good idea, because a police officer is unable to see your license number or expiration.

Hopefully, all of these tips can help you keep your vehicle safe and prepared for the winter weather ahead!

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