Local News

Check battery, stock up on supplies to prepare car for winter driving

Posted January 21, 2016 10:03 a.m. EST
Updated January 21, 2016 4:28 p.m. EST

As a winter storm barrels down on North Carolina, threatening inches of snow capped by a layer of freezing rain, it's important for vehicles to be prepared for a grocery store run.

Keeping up on regular maintenance can help keep vehicles in good condition for winter weather driving, according to insurance company State Farm. Regular maintenance includes checking to make sure all exterior lights are working and making sure all fluid levels are within normal operating range. Keep the vehicle's gas tank full, too – gas station pumps don't work when the power is out.

State Farm has three top tips to keep cars in tip top winter driving shape:

– Check tire inflation. Tire air pressure can drop as much as 1 psi for every 10 degrees in temperature.

– Check the condition of windshield wiper blades. Most wiper blades should be replaced after one year.

– Use a winter windshield washer fluid. Winter fluid should be rated to work at 0 degrees without freezing.

The company also advises keeping an emergency supply kit with each car in case of an emergency. Emergency kits should include hazard triangles or road flares, first aid kit, jumper cables, windshield scraper and brush, spare tire, tow straps, blankets and warm clothes, a cell phone with a charger, and road salt or cat litter to help with tire traction.

Experts also advise making sure anti-freeze levels are topped off and check the car's battery.

"Cold weather does a number on batteries. This past week, it's been up and down. When it goes hot to cold, we seem to change a lot more out," said Jeanine McDonald. "If they were border-line about to go out, this cold weather will definitely get it."

Many car shops will test a battery for free to make sure it is fully charged.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said wintry precipitation will begin between 4 and 6 a.m. on Friday, with sleet lasting until noon. The sleet will change into freezing rain in the afternoon, dropping up to a quarter inch of ice.

More rain will follow overnight, and the storm could turn back into a light amount of snow on Saturday.

As for driving, AAA Carolinas says no one can drive well on ice. If the weather makes driving dangerous, avoid unnecessary travel until conditions improve.

If travel is necessary, AAA has these tips:

– Don't power up hills. Applying extra gas on hills just starts wheels spinning.

– Don't hit the brakes in a skid. When skidding, continue to steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.

– Leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you.

– Don't use cruise control. Drivers might need to quickly reduce speed by letting off the accelerator, which is more difficult with cruise control on.