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Winter Driving Tips

Car on Snow-Covered RoadDriving in the winter can get crazy, especially around the holidays. Traffic, especially in the Northwest, get especially congested around Christmas. 2013 has proven to be one of the craziest winter weather years across the nation. Extreme temperatures can hit at any time leaving the roads dangerous for even the most experienced drivers.

Keeping your family, yourself and your car safe should be your #1 priority while navigating the slippery winter roads. As we posted before, taking care of your vehicle can save you a lot of worry and even prevent accidents. Take your car in for a tune up before every winter season.

Your car’s breaks are one of the most important feature to helping you stop quickly and safely. If you know you’re slipping and you don’t have antilock breaks, pump your breaks to get traction if you find that your car is slipping.

snow5The best advice to winter drivers is to keep a safe distance between them and the cars in front of them. Even if you are very confident in winter conditions, other drivers might not be so experienced, so giving yourself some room to make calculated driving decisions is very important if something were to happen. Keep at least a 10 second buffer in front of your car, this way if you hit some black ice you’ll have more time to react and make a good route to get to safety.

As the scouts say, “Be Prepared”. Keep an emergency kit in your car, and keep your gas tank full. Also, make sure your car insurance policy covers your car and your inhabitants from accidents. Having a good auto insurance policy is important all year round, but it is especially important in the winter, when most accidents happen.

Ways to Protect Your Car From Theft

Sadly the with the holidays approaching that means that the national theft rate will be on the rise. The theft rate in November and December is much higher than other months of the year. There are some things you can do to deter car thieves and keep your car safely in your possession:

  • Lock it up! This one seems like a no-brainer, but statistics have shown that around 50% of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked. Even if you’re just running in to the store for a gallon of milk, double click your locker just to be sure you car is secure.
  • Stay out of the dark. Park your car in a well lit area, preferably where there are people nearby that could witness the act. Well over 1/2 of car thefts happen after dark.
  • Take your keys with you. Don’t leave your keys in your car. It may seem convenient, but you’re basically just handing over the keys to any thief passing by. Even if you think you’ve hid them in your car, thieves know where to look for them. Just take them with you.
  • Close your windows. Don’t leave your windows open when you leave your car. It doesn’t make much sense to lock your car if your windows are wide open. Someone can just reach in and unlock the car.
  • Use your garage! If you have a car garage, use it! Clean it out and store other items in the rafters or somewhere else. Not only will your car be much more comfortable (warm in the winter, cool in summer), but it will be concealed from thieves.

Most of these tips seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many drivers don’t follow these simple and effective theft deterring tips. Protect your car today and lock it up! Check your auto insurance policy for what is covered due to vehicle theft, and if necessary get more coverage or better deductibles.

Car Winterizing

iStock_000005417609XSmallMost of us prepare our homes for the winter season, by cleaning air filters, gutters and insulating pipes and windows, but have you thought about winterizing your car?  The harsh cold months can really take a toll on your vehicle. Have you ever noticed when you jump in your car on a cold winter morning how it feels a little sluggish? A properly working vehicle is essential for safe driving and staying away from accidents.  Keep your driving record clean with these great winter car tips.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your car during the winter is by keeping a well stocked emergency kit somewhere easily accessible inside your vehicle. Many times when your out and about a surprise winter storm can catch you off guard and you find yourself stranded. Make sure you have a flashlight, extra food, blankets and water for emergencies. Always have a spare tire and the tools needed to make the swap. Keeping extra engine oil, engine coolant and washer fluid bottles is always a good way to be prepared.

suburbanGet your four-wheel drive system checked out at a mechanics before the season starts to make sure everything is working properly. If you have 4WD on your car chances are you don’t use it very often during the rest of the year. Nothing is worse than a faulty 4WD system when you were counting on it getting you out of your snowy driveway or even a ditch.

While you’re getting your 4WD system checked at the mechanics, have them check your belts and hoses for any damage or leaks. Colder temps can weaken these car parts and when they break or snap you’ll be out of luck.  Also, have them test your battery and make sure it is not time to get a new one, and make sure you have the right kind of oil in your car for the temperatures in your geographical area.

Woman on a Cell Phone in a Snow StormAlways keep your gas tank full. If you get stranded having extra gas can help you from freezing to death. Also, empty tanks can cause condensation buildup that can eventually lead to water freezing in your fuel lines and it can block the gas from getting to your engine.

Use your best judgement when venturing outside. If a large storm is coming, stay inside if you can. Keep yourself out of harms way when possible.  Avoiding accidents on wintery roads can save you a lot of money in the long run on your car insurance premiums and accident deductibles.