Auto insurance

Extreme cold calls for extreme driving tips

Wednesday, January 4, 2017by  Jon Osterberg

cars on road in winterNorthwest motorists will face extreme cold this week, amplifying our typical winter-driving hazards.

Recently we offered general winter-driving tips, followed by advice specifically for driving on ice. Now we offer tips for dealing with problems that arise when temperatures really plummet – into the teens tonight west of the mountains, and to single digits and below zero east of the Cascades.

Winterize your wiper fluid. You don't want diluted fluid in your reservoir when it's super cold. Make sure the reservoir is filled with a winter blend that has alcohol to prevent freezing.

On freeways in particular, where trucks and other vehicles splash you with slushy filth, you'll be blinded quickly if your fluid is frozen. That happened to me last month while driving to Leavenworth, after an oil-change shop apparently topped off my reservoir with plain old water.

Consider adding a can of fuel-line antifreeze to your gas tank. It will clear your lines of water or condensation, which in super-cold weather can freeze and stall your motor.

Before starting your car after a heavy snowfall, make sure your exhaust pipe is not obstructed.

Idle your motor for a few minutes before driving. In extreme cold, that helps to fully circulate the oil.

car with snow on it and headlights on If it snows, or if passing vehicles pelt you with sleet, wipe off your headlights and taillights occasionally before they're encrusted with frozen slush. Outside mirrors, too. You need to see, and be seen.

Cold saps batteries. The colder it gets, the harder your battery must work, and if it's weak to begin with it might die. Carry jumper cables just in case. And if there's no time to replace a weak battery, consider placing a trouble light with an incandescent bulb under the hood overnight. It might radiate enough warmth to sustain your battery.

Treat your door lock with graphite. Yes, the dark powder can be a little messy. But it will keep your lock from freezing. Few things are more frustrating than being barred from your own car in frigid weather.

icy car door with key partially in lock

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