Tips For Drivers To Survive Chicago’s Cold Winter Weather
Here’s some tips and reminders to make sure your car starts on the coldest mornings and you get from here to there and back safely.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
The first thing I did was top off each vehicle’s gas tank. Keeping your tank at least half full or more will make starting your car on mornings easier on your battery.
Use Fuel Line Anti-Freeze Treatment
After filling up the gas tank, I pulled out a bright yellow bottle of Heet to add to the gas tank.
When you know the weather is going to be really cold, add a bottle of Heet, or any similar fuel line anti-freeze treatment to a full tank of gas. These products help remove water from your gas tank and fuel lines so they don’t freeze up when it gets really cold.
While there are many generic brands of fuel line anti-freeze on the market, Heet is Chicago born, bred and manufactured by Gold Eagle Products on the South Side–and we like to support our local Windy City businesses.
Consider Replacing Your Battery
If you have an older car battery that you’ve put off replacing, now might be the time to get a fresh one. Having a well charged, strong battery with the cranking power to get your car going on those cold winter mornings is priceless.
New Windshield Wiper Blades?
You can’t drive safely, if you can’t see out your windshield.
So another thing to check is your vehicle’s windshield wipers. With a few months of snow, ice and salt ahead of us, if your wiper blades aren’t keeping your windshield clear, you need to get some new ones. Consider investing in some higher cost, higher quality wiper blades. Some people swear by premium wiper blades and feel its well worth the investment.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Make sure you remember to top of your wiper fluid on a regular basis. Keep a gallon with you in the trunk. With all the salt on the streets this time of year, most drivers use up a lot of wiper fluid and you don’t want to run out when you need it most.
Ice Scraper/Snow Brush
For God’s sake! Make sure you have a decent snow brush and ice scraper in the car or trunk.
Check Your Tires
If your tires are bald or just low on tread, you’re going to be in for a very unpleasant and possibly unsafe winter of driving.
On ice slick or snow packed roads, worn out tires will just have you literally spinning your wheels. Not only that, but you will probably have crucially diminished control of your car in bad weather conditions.
Invest in a set of new tires if your current set of tires is ready for retirement.
While some people move from standard tires to snow tires for the winter, most urban drivers should be able to get along with out then.
But, no matter what tire choice you go with, make sure they’re filled at the proper tire pressure. Low air pressure will diminish how effective your tires perform in the snow and on the ice.
Jumper Cables: It’s good to have a decent pair of jumper cables with you during Chicago’s cold months. You never know when you might need them for yourself or to help another stranded motorist with a dead battery.
Late Night Starts: When you know the temperature is going to drop below zero overnight, it’s not a bad idea to put on your coat and boots to run the engine on your street parked car for five or ten minutes before you slip into bed. It will help insure your engine will start in the morning.
Other Good Stuff To Keep In Your Car: Warm blanket, flashlight, a snow shovel to dig yourself out of that snow bank you managed to be stuck in, and kitty litter and/or sand if you get your car out of a super icy parking spot.
How To Handle A Cold Weather Breakdown: Get your car off the road if possible, turn on your hazards, and call for assistance if you can. Get a friend or family member out to help you or AAA or a tow truck company. Unless your car is parked legally and safely, don’t abandon your car. If you can, stay with it until help arrives. But keep warm. If you have to leave your car, leave a note to try to keep it from being ticketed.
Drive safely, stay warm!