Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
Much of the country has been blanketed by snow or experiencing other brutal winter weather during 2015. Although school children may be enjoying their mini-vacations, drivers are feeling tortured by the conditions. If you did not prepare your car for winter before now, you should certainly do so now. Listed below are tips from safercar.gov that could help minimize some of the breakdown worries of winter driving.
- Get your car serviced now. Do a routine maintenance and checkup for worn parts and repairs.
- Check your battery. Make certain that you have sufficient voltage, as well as charging system and belt inspections.
- Check your cooling system. Verify that you have enough coolant, that it has been flushed recently, and that you don’t have leaks anywhere in your cooling system.
- Fill your windshield washer reservoir. Use a “no freeze” fluid, refill as needed.
- Check your windshield wipers and defrosters. Consider heavy-duty winter wipers.
- Verify floor mat installation to prevent pedal interference. Use mats that are designed to fit your car.
- Inspect your tires. As a matter of fact, tires should routinely be inspected once each month. Follow manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure guidelines. Look for uneven wear or insufficient tread.
- Check the age of your tires. Some aging isn’t necessarily obvious. The last four digits of the DOT number on your tire indicates the week and year of manufacture. Owner’s manuals usually recommend replacement every six years, regardless of use.
- Know your car. Since cars behave differently on wet, icy, or snowy roads, take time to learn your car’s behavior. Don’t overdrive the road conditions. Drive slowly and give yourself plenty of room for stopping. Know your car’s brakes and how to use the properly. In general, antilock brakes require firm, continuous pressure. Other brakes need to be pumped gently. Know which kind of brakes you have.
- Plan your travel and route. Avoid traveling when road conditions are hazardous. If you have to travel, don’t rush. Keep your gas tank close to full. Your trip may take much longer than you expect.
- Stock your vehicle. Keep the following supplies in your car: snow shovel, broom, ice scraper, abrasive material (sand or kitty litter), jumper cables, flashlight, warning devices, blankets. For longer trips, you should also keep a cell phone with charger, water, food, necessary medicines.
- Learn what to do in a winter emergency. If you are stalled, follow these safety tips:
- Stay with your car and don’t overexert yourself.
- Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep interior dome light on.
- Don’t run your car for long periods. Run it just long enough to stay warm. First, clear your exhaust pipe of snow. Make certain you open a window while the car is running to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Protect your self and your loved ones. Wear seat belts, don’t text and drive, put blankets around children if needed for proper fit into car seat harness, and never leave your child unattended in or around the car.
Winter driving is a challenge under the best of circumstances. Don’t handicap yourself by ignoring the commonsense guidelines listed above. Drive carefully and stay safe.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year”. Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100″ lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best-most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) – national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.