Digital Access

Digital Access
Access theherald-news.com and all Shaw Media Illinois content from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, sports, business, classified and more! News you can use every day.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, weather, and more.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
Have our latest news, sports and obituaries emailed directly to you Monday through Friday so you can keep up with what's happening in the area.
Column

Steinbach: How to keep your car winter ready as temps drop

Car safety is an important topic at any time of the year, but more so during winter. These tips will help you get started on ensuring safe travel.
Car safety is an important topic at any time of the year, but more so during winter. These tips will help you get started on ensuring safe travel.

Driving becomes significantly more dangerous in the winter, with about 76,000 people injured in weather-related car crashes every year. Cold weather, along with weather conditions such as snow and sleet, introduce a number of safety problems, with potential car problems near the top of the list. Knowing what to do after a car accident is important, but taking preventive measures will help avoid having to use that knowledge.

Fortunately, there are a variety of precautions to take to make your car safer during the winter months. Following these steps will help ensure your own safety as well as that of friends and family. A few minutes of preparation can stop a minor problem from becoming more serious.

The government recommends a short list of items to keep on hand while driving in potentially hazardous conditions, and this should always be the first safety step as winter approaches. Even if something goes wrong, having the right supplies will keep you and your passengers safe until help arrives.

Recommended items to have include a change of clothes; a pair of gloves and a warm hat for each passenger; a portable cellphone battery in case the car dies; calorie-dense snacks such as jerky or nuts; sand to provide traction if the car gets stuck; blankets for sleeping in the car; and a first-aid kit to treat any injuries.

It’s easy to put off taking care of your car until something goes wrong, but it simply isn’t worth taking that risk during the winter. Start by checking antifreeze and engine coolant levels. Both of these are simple to confirm (engine coolant kits are available at any auto supply store), and are easy to replenish.

You should also double-check your tires, the most important part of a car during the winter months. As tires wear down, they begin to get less traction in the snow, which can make driving unsafe. If you live in an area that’s particularly prone to harsh conditions, consider buying tires that can handle the weather.

Tire pressure also is crucial to a car’s performance and can be quickly verified using a gauge found at auto supply stores. A car’s manual will provide guidelines for tire pressure, and tires can be filled for free at many gas stations.

• Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined international relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to New York City to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food and writing, of course.

Loading more