Tips for winter driving

“Winterizing helps ensure our cars are going to start in below-freezing temperatures and not leave us stranded,” says Dustin Cox, service manager for Baxter Auto. Featured: the 2017 Toyota Sienna, one of the dealership's top picks for winter driving.  

The mesmerizing peace of cascading flakes. A tableau of frosted trees. Crackling fireplaces and soul-warming drinks. Nebraska winters offer moments to savor – when we are not shivering, shoveling or trying to revive dead car batteries. Wah-wah.

While we cannot control the temperature or coax the driveway to clear itself, we can be proactive against cold-related car trouble. In other words, it is wise to winterize.

“Winterizing helps ensure our cars are going to start in below-freezing temperatures and not leave us stranded,” says Dustin Cox, service manager for Baxter Auto.

He suggests a straight-forward, winterizing “top five,” all of which are typically covered in a multipoint inspection.

  1. Battery: “The battery is the biggest thing,” he shares. “Make sure it’s up to par for the winter by having its condition and state of charge checked. There’s nothing worse than coming out to a dead battery.”
  2. Coolant level: “If your coolant is low or could freeze, that could wreak all kinds of havoc in your motor. The biggest thing is to be on top of it.”
  3. Tires: Check wear and inflation. “Almost any shop – ours included – will top off your air if you have a low tire,” Cox says.
  4. Wiper blades and washer fluid: Keep an eye out for streaks (a sign wiper blades need to be replaced) and top off your washer fluid.
  5. Lights: “Make sure you don’t have burned-out lights,” Cox says. “Make sure people can see you.”

“The whole thing is about preventive maintenance. It goes a long way,” says Randy Hamling, assistant service manager for Baxter Auto.

The two also recommend having a personal safety kit in the car – blankets, jumper cables and some water – just in case. Pack your patience as well. Allowing cars ample time to warm up lets the oil flow easier and frozen-hard rubber seals and gaskets become more pliable.

“It will increase the wear and tear on your car substantially by not giving it that five minutes of warm-up time,” Cox says. “It’s really not worth the risk.”

Not having to worry about the car this winter means more time to focus on ice skating, furry slippers and … warding off hypothermia.

Be the first to know when news happens. Get the latest breaking headlines sent straight to your inbox.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.