Nothing ruins the merriment of the holiday season like a vehicle breakdown on an empty stretch of highway. Fortunately, a little extra attention during preventive maintenance, regular maintenance and pre-trip inspections can help ensure your vehicle is ready for the upcoming bustling holiday traffic and any harsh weather Mother Nature may throw your way.
Coolant Level and Antifreeze – Check that there is sufficient antifreeze in the system to prevent it from freezing.
Exhaust System – Confirm exhaust-system connections are all fitted and functioning properly to help prevent the danger of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Battery – Make sure the battery contacts are clean and free from corrosion.
Defrosting and Heating Equipment – Verify that the defroster is functioning properly as it is an absolute necessity for visibility. Be sure heating vents along the dash are not blocked, fans are clear, and that the heater is working as it should.
Wipers and Washer – See to it that the windshield wipers blades are up to the task of maximizing your visibility. Verify that they are operating at the proper arm pressure to clear snow and ice effectively. Look at the washer reservoir for cracks, collapsed areas and loose clamps, and make sure it’s filled to the recommended level. Use windshield washer antifreeze to prevent freezing of the liquid and carry a good-quality ice scraper.
Tire Chains – Know the chain requirements in the states in which you’ll be driving, and carry the correct amount of chains and extra cross links. Make sure that you know how to properly mount them before you need to do so and ensure you have the proper tools and attaching devices.
Oil – Use the correct oil viscosity for the climate in which you will be driving. Check with engine makers or your oil supplier for cold-weather recommendations.
Fuel – Make sure the fuel tank is full before leaving and top off the tank frequently should you encounter delays. A full tank will also help keep water out of the fuel which can freeze in fuel lines and filters. Extra precautions, such as additive treatments, are required when driving a diesel vehicle as the fuel may “gel” in extreme conditions.
Lights and Reflectors – Be sure your lights, turn signals and reflectors are clear of dirt, mud, salt, ice, and snow. Check lights frequently to see they are working properly.
Windows and Mirrors – Remove ice and snow before driving and clear them as needed along the way.
Steps, Handholds and Deck Plates – Clear ice and snow from vehicle parts used to enter the vehicle to prevent slips and falls. Watch out when exiting your vehicle as the pavement can also be slippery.
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