11 October 2005


Jim Rink (313) 336-1513

In an effort to help motorists get ready, get set and go during this year’s winter driving season, AAA has compiled the following useful tips:

Get Ready: Before you drive long distances, check the weather conditions along your route. As a safety precaution, remember to bring a cellular phone and a winter driving kit that includes the following items: a flashlight with fresh batteries, a small snow shovel and brush, traction mats, an ice scraper, booster cables, a warm blanket, flares or triangle warning devices, heavy gloves, window washing solvent and a first aid kit.

Get Set: Inspect your vehicle thoroughly before leaving your driveway. Ensure that your tires are properly inflated, fluid levels are full, front and rear lights are operating, and belts and hoses are in good condition.

Keep in mind that one of the most common causes of cold-weather breakdowns is a weak or dead battery. Good indicators that your battery is weak and may need replacement, include a starter motor that cranks the engine slowly when the ignition key is turned, or headlights that dim noticeably when the engine speed drops to an idle. Should you find that your vehicle is not in optimum working condition; AAA strongly recommends that you immediately seek assistance from one of the more than 7,800 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities in North America. For a list of AAA approved shops, visit www.aaa.com.

Go: Now that your vehicle has the green light, here are some winter driving tips to get you to your destination safely.

When driving during slippery and icy conditions, slow down and keep a safe distance from other vehicles, minimize your brake use and bear in mind that traction is greatest just before the wheels spin. Gentle pressure on the accelerator pedal when starting is the best method for retaining traction and avoiding skids.

The most effective way to stop on ice and snow is to apply your brakes gently well in advance of the point where you intend to stop. If your vehicle has an antilock braking system (ABS), you may feel a vibration or pulsation in the brake pedal when coming to a stop. This means the system is operating as designed to prevent wheel lock up. Continue to apply firm pressure to the brake pedal until your vehicle comes to a complete stop. Do not pump your brakes if your car has ABS.

Keep your seatbelts fastened and make certain that all passengers are securely restrained. When driving in falling snow or fog, lower your speed, use your low-beam headlights or fog lights and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.

To help avoid gas line freeze up, keep your gas tank at least half full to minimize condensation. Use of a commercial gas “dryer” can also be beneficial, but is not necessary in areas where ethanol or methanol is added to winter fuels to help reduce exhaust emissions.