Before winter weather hits, you need to tune up your car. Follow this checklist as you prepare your vehicle to navigate cold temperatures and winter weather safely.
As the heart of your vehicle, the engine must be in good working order. Inspect it thoroughly and repair any faulty wiring or replace the spark plugs if necessary. Also, visually inspect the belts on both sides and make sure they’re not cracked, frayed or glazed. Inspect the hoses and tem if you see cracks or other wear, too.
Protect your vehicle from overheating when you maintain the radiator. Flush the entire system if it hasn’t been done in the past two years, and repair any leaks before adding fresh antifreeze.
Maintain power all season when you check your battery and its connections. Ensure the battery is free from corrosion and securely attached to the vehicle. Replace it if it’s older than seven years.
Your vehicle can’t operate properly without oil or if the oil system is dirty. Clean or replace the filter and change the oil now.
Not only do filters remove dirt and assist your vehicle in operating properly, but they can improve your gas mileage. This fall, replace your car’s oil, transmission and air filters.
Maintain control of your vehicle at all times thanks to power steering. If your vehicle is handling rough or groaning, repair this essential system.
Worn brakes reduce your ability to stop on slippery roads. Ask your mechanic to inspect the brakes and replace them if they’re worn or uneven.
Properly aligned tires with the correct pressure and adequate tread provide the traction you need. Take time now to inspect your tires. Rotate, replace or inflate them as needed.
Visibility is required for safe winter driving. Change the windshield wipers so that they make full contact with the windshield. Fill the washer fluid, too.
A safe exhaust system prevents dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. Repair any muffler or tail pipe system leaks.
Rust spots grow over time, especially when exposed to wet winter elements. Repair any rust spots as you protect your vehicle.
Taking care of your vehicle now ensures it’s protected all season. In addition to following this winter tune-up checklist, talk to your insurance agent. Ensure your auto coverage is adequate as you prepare for winder driving.
Rear-end collisions are the most common accidents between vehicles.1 They occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you.
The Three-Second Rule
Increasing the distance between you and the car ahead can help give you the time you need to recognize a hazard and respond safely. The National Safety Council recommends a minimum three second following distance.2
Determining the three-second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign, a tree or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes (count 1-1,000; 2-1,000; 3-1,000) for you to pass the same spot. If it is not at least three seconds, leave more space and increase your following distance.
Think of following distance in terms of time, not space. With a standard of 2.5 seconds, highway engineers use time, rather than distance, to represent how long it takes a driver to perceive and react to hazards. The National Safety Council also uses this standard (plus a little extra for safety) when recommending the three-second rule for following distance.3
Sometimes Three Seconds Is Not Enough
The three-second rule is recommended for passenger vehicles during ideal road and weather conditions. Slow down and increase your following distance even more during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
Distractions, such as texting, reaching for a drink or glancing at a navigation device, also play a role in rear-end collisions. Even if you use the three-second rule, you may not have time to react to a hazard if you are distracted. It is another reason why you should avoid distractions while driving.4
Nine out of 10 Americans drive to their travel destination.¹
If you are among those planning to hit the road, remember: safe driving starts before you even leave the driveway. Securing luggage, maintaining vehicle balance and keeping clear lines of sight from the driver’s seat is key.
Learn how to pack your vehicle for safer travels in these videos with Travelers specialist Chris Hayes — and make your road trip a memorable one, for all the right reasons.