Paul Whitlock, a technician at Johnson City Nissan’s service center, told News Channel 11 the best strategy is to bring your car in for a regular check-up before you get caught in winter weather.
Whitlock recommends checking everything from coolant, to ensure it won’t freeze, to your battery life.
He suggested, “making sure your tires are in good shape, your battery and make sure your heater works well, so you’re not cold or get left stranded with a dead battery. And then if winter weather does hit your tires give you the most traction you can get to keep you safe”
Bringing your car in for regular maintenance, like oil changes, should alert you to problems like a weak battery or worn-down tire treads.
Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Noah Click agreed: winter weather preparedness starts with keeping your car in “tip-top shape.”
“Tire pressure changes, caused by dipping temperatures, can be used to your advantage in certain situations, however,” said Whitlock. “Say, if you are stuck in a ditch or something like that, are having a hard time on snowy roads,” said Whitlock. “At slower speeds, I would actually air down the tire a little bit, maybe about five PSI, so you get more traction along with the standard sand or kitty litter.”
But you can be prepared for winter trips, and even accidents, Click added.
“Make sure that you have a flashlight in your vehicle. Make sure you have that first aid kit. Make sure you have a 100% charged cell phone, blankets, water, snacks,” said Click. “Those type things can all help you when and if you were to be in a crash.”
Click said 18% of accidents occur in winter weather conditions, mostly because drivers still attempt to drive at their typical speeds even in snow and ice.
“You cannot do that. Higher speeds in wet weather, snow…it’s a recipe for disaster,” Click said.
Both Click and Whitlock say it’s important to remember you don’t have to drive in the snow unless it’s an emergency.
“If you don’t feel comfortable driving on the roads, don’t,” Whitlock said. “Just stay home.”
Click also encouraged drivers to slow down before curves, rather than in curves, to prevent sliding off the road.
And be sure to look ahead of you on the road. He says 80% of crashes can be prevented if you give yourself extra reaction time.