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 the 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.
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 may evaporate, according to Interstate Batteries. And if your battery is more than a couple of years old, you could end up stranded with a dead battery that won’t hold a charge. If your battery is three years old or more, consider replacing it right away, because you don’t want to be stuck with an immobile car on a hot day.
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. Tire pressure typically changes by 1-2 pounds per square inch (PSI) for every 10 degrees of temperature change. 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 can affect 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 around cool as a cucumber.
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 may 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, potentially causing damage. It seems counterintuitive, but in periods of heavy rainfall, take care to keep your car clean and use a wax or liquid sealant, says Popular Mechanics, 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 can help preserve your vehicle’s structural integrity and keep it looking shiny, too.
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, keep both hands on the wheel and slow down, says Weather.com. Don’t follow anyone too closely, especially when trailing high-profile vehicles like trucks, vans, tractor-trailers and other vehicles with something in tow. Watch for objects blowing across the road and if you do not feel safe driving in high winds, pull onto the shoulder of the road (away from tall objects like trees) and stop.Guest blogger Jody DeVere is the CEO of AskPatty.com Inc, a website, blog and marketing agency providing automotive education to female consumers. Originally published February 1, 2012