Is it our imagination, or does winter actually come quicker, strike harder and stay longer than all the other seasons put together? Judging by the number of Portland car crashes that take place from November through February, our cars are as ill-prepared, in many instances, as the rest of us for the onset of slippery roads, poor visibility and freezing temperatures. This year, get the jump on winter and make sure your car is ready for the perils of ice and snow by getting your car ready for an Oregon Winter.
Many think that topping up the anti-freeze and putting on snow tires represent the full extent of the necessary preparations they can make. Other steps, not as obvious, will go a long way in the effort to get your car ready for an Oregon Winter.
Give your car a winter coat!
There’s no need for a fur collar or fleece lining, but your car’s paint work and full exterior are especially susceptible to damage from snow, ice, road salt and grit, so before the really bad weather sets in, give your car a complete cleaning—inside and out—then use a good coat or two of wax polish to protect the exterior from the elements. It will be necessary with most good car waxes to apply it before the temperatures dip below 55 degrees. After that, the wax may not bond as efficiently as it normally would.
A clean, freshly waxed car and squeaky clean windows will make it much easier to brush off snow and ice. The more slippery-smooth the surface, the better.
After the car is thoroughly cleaned, inside and out, also consider some of these steps to avoid becoming another Portland winter car crash victim:
- Get the battery and electrical system fully tested. Increased demands from window de-foggers, heating systems and windscreen wipers place your car’s electrical system under a huge strain, and it will need to be in tip-top shape to see you safely through the winter months. The easiest way to test the battery (while you’re at home, please) is to turn on the lights before you start the car. If the lights get noticeably brighter after the engine is running, get a professional to check whether you need a replacement battery.
- Besides the anti-freeze, check all other fluid levels, including washer fluids, coolant, brake and transmission fluids, etc. You may need to change to a thinner viscosity oil for the winter months. Check your owner’s manual. A 50-50 mix of water and anti-freeze is normally sufficient for year-round driving. Never check the coolant when the engine is hot. You could be badly burned by steam or scalding liquid if you take off a radiator cap before the engine has cooled.
- See and be seen! Do a complete visual check of headlights, tail lights, back-up lights and brake lights to make sure no replacement bulbs are required. Maximize your own visibility by ensuring your windshield wipers are functioning properly, and make sure the washer fluid is suitable for sub-freezing temperatures. Many auto stores sell washer fluid with de-icing agents.
Expect the unexpected
Now that your car is set for the winter months, you’ve given yourself a good chance not to become a participant in the hundreds of winter-time Portland car crashes that happen each year. But what if the unexpected happens? Even without being involved in a fender-bender, cars can get stuck in drifts, skid off the road or stall miles from your destination in dangerously cold temperatures. As well as protecting your car from the elements, it’s wise to protect yourself as well.
- Start with the obvious; a plastic ice scraper or soft-bristled snowbrush.
- Consider carrying a collapsible shovel in the trunk throughout the winter months.
- Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in the car—a good idea at any time of the year but especially so in the winter.
- Even if you think your battery is fine, keep a set of jumper cables in the car. You might leave the lights on without knowing it, or you might come across someone else who did!
- If you live in a mountainous part of Oregon, throw a set of tire chains in the trunk. There may be times when they’ll be the only way your car will be able to stay on the road.
- Carry some scrap pieces of carpet in your trunk. If you get stuck in deep snow, they’re brilliant for giving you the traction you need to get your car moving again.
- When going on a longer trip in the winter, take along blankets, a flashlight, candles, a lighter, flares, an extra supply of washer fluid and maybe some extra food and bottled water.
It’s simply not possible to eliminate all winter time Portland car crashes, but following these simple tips will certainly improve your chances of becoming another tragic statistic by getting your car ready for Oregon winter. If, however, you have taken all precautions, and in spite of your best efforts someone else’s negligence has left you injured, give serious consideration to contacting one of the experienced and helpful Portland car crash attorneys, who will help you get the compensation you need to get your car repaired, and to pay your medical bills and other expenses.