Engage in safe driving and maintenance practices this winter

December 19, 2013 12:00 AM

For many drivers, the best action that can be taken to prepare for winter driving is taking a vehicle to an auto repair franchise. There, professionals can inspect the car from top to bottom, ensuring that everything is ready for the cold temperatures, inclement weather and rough conditions that the months ahead will bring. 

Here are a few safety and maintenance tips that can help you and your car this winter: 

Check four-wheel drive
If your vehicle is one that has the option of four-wheel drive, you should familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of this feature. Spend some time reading the owner's manual and figuring out which gears or buttons control the service. You should also practice switching four-wheel drive on and driving with it, so you better understand what to expect when you need it in a real-life situation. 

Invest in brake repair
Your brakes will have to be in tip-top shape to handle the demands of winter. Worn-down brake pads can cause numerous problems, including subpar stopping and even potential accidents. That's why it is so important to make sure you get the brake service your vehicle needs - even a simple check can go a long way toward avoiding future issues. 

Also, you should keep in mind that brakes work with your tires to keep a vehicle secure on the roads. For maximum effectiveness, have a professional provide tire rotation and alignment in addition to improving the brakes. 

Clean your car
Washing and waxing an automobile is about more than looking good. A coat of wax on a car can deflect snow and ice, making it easier to clean off the vehicle. This simple action can also prevent road salt from sticking to the paint and damaging the car's exterior - a potential outcome that could result in costly auto repair down the line. 

Know how to handle other drivers
Dealing with others on the roads is an important part of staying safe. Poor visibility and uneven road surfaces are common occurrences in the winter, so you need to be prepared to contend with these factors, as well as other drivers. A solid first step is to make a conscious effort to increase the space between your vehicle and others. 

"One of the largest driving concerns during times of cold weather is that of following distances," said Don Logan, who is named America's Road Team Captain of the American Trucking Associations. "When the roads are slick, your normal following distance needs to double in length for snow and triple in length for icy conditions."

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