Getting ready for cold weather
You wouldn't head out into cold weather without bundling up. Your vehicle faces similar challenges as temperatures drop. The bottom line: it needs a little extra care as the mercury plummets. A little preparation before winter sets in may help prevent major headaches later.
What you can do
- Make sure you have a heavy-duty ice scraper and snow brush in your vehicle.
- Cold weather reduces tire pressure, so check tire pressure often. See your Owner's Manual for directions and details.
- In severe winter temperatures, you may have to change the grade of your engine oil. Check your vehicle's Owner's Manual for the viscosity grade recommended for your vehicle's engine.
- Check your wiper blades. Cold temperatures can make blades brittle, and ice on the windshield can cause nicks in the blades, decreasing performance.
- If you're planning a trip, take a blanket, extra-warm clothing, a collapsible shovel, a bag of road salt and an extra bottle of windshield washer fluid.
- Put on snow tires if you live in major snow belt areas. Check your vehicle's Owner's Manual for details and recommended practices.
What GM Goodwrench can do
- Cold weather affects battery efficiency. Most cold-weather breakdowns occur because batteries aren't delivering full cranking power. Your GM Goodwrench technician can check your battery and make sure battery cables are corrosion-free.
- Winter will take a big toll on your vehicle. Make sure your vehicle is ready. See your GM dealer for a fall season Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection, including checks on wiper blades, tires, fluids and more.
Driving in the rain
Rain and wet roads can mean driving trouble. On a wet road you can't stop, accelerate or turn as well because your tire to road traction isn't as good as on dry roads. If your tires don't have much tread left, you'll get even less traction.
It's always wise to go slower and be cautious if it starts to rain while you are driving. The surface may get wet suddenly when your reflexes are tuned for driving on dry pavement.
The heavier the rain, the harder it is to see. Even if your windshield wiper blades are good shape, a heavy rain can make it harder to see road signs and traffic signals, pavement markings, the edge of the road, and even people walking. Road spray can often be worse for vision than rain, especially if it comes from a dirty road.
So it is wise to keep your wiping equipment in good shape and keep your windshield washer tank filled. Keep your windows clean inside. This will make them less likely to fog up. Replace your windshield wiper inserts when they show signs of streaking or missing areas on the windshield, or when strips of rubber start to separate from the inserts.
Driving too fast through large water puddles, or even going through some car washes, can cause problems too. The water may affect your brakes. Try to avoid puddles, but if you can't, try to slow down before you hit them.
Hydroplaning is dangerous. So much water can build up under your tires that your vehicle can actually ride on the water. This can happen if the road is wet enough and you are going fast enough. When your vehicle is hydroplaning, it has little or no contact with the road.
You might not be aware of hydroplaning. You could drive along for some time without realizing your tires aren't in constant contact with the road. You could find out the hard way; when you have to slow, turn, move out to pass - or if you get hit by a gust of wind. You could suddenly find yourself out of control.
Hydroplaning doesn't happen often. But it can if your tires haven't much tread or if the pressure in one or more is low. It can happen if a lot of water is standing on the road. If you can see reflections from trees, telephone poles, or other vehicles and raindrops "dimple" the water's surface, there could be hydroplaning. Hydroplaning usually happens on higher speed roads. There just isn't a hard and fast rule about hydroplaning.
The best advice is to slow down when it is raining, and be careful.
Some Other Rainy Weather Tips
- Turn on your headlights - not just your parking lights - to help make you more visible to others.
- Look for hard-to-see vehicles coming from behind. What you see through the rearview mirrors may be distorted by raindrops on the outside mirror and rear window. You may want to use your headlights even in daytime if it's raining hard.
- Besides slowing down, allow some extra following distance. And be especially careful when you pass another vehicle. Allow yourself more clear room ahead, and be prepared to have your view restricted by road spray. If the road spray is so heavy you are actually blinded, drop back. Don't pass until conditions improve. Going more slowly is better than having an accident.
- Use your defogger if it helps.
- Have good tires with proper tread depth.
The most important tip to keep your family safe while driving is to always use safety belts and proper child restraints. Children are safer when placed in the rear seat in the appropriate infant, child, booster seat, or safety belt - appropriate for the size and age. Never place a rear facing infant restraint in the front seat of a vehicle equipped with an active air bag.
Both Hands on the Wheel!
The first car safety tip is to always drive with both hands on the wheel. The best place for your hands are at the nine and three o'clock positions, which help provide greater control when steering.
Lights On, Please
With your safety in mind, all new GM vehicles come equipped with daytime running lamps. To help with safe driving, turn on your lights in rainy or snowy weather to make sure that your headlamps, taillamps and other exterior lamps are on. Even if your visibility is good, other drivers will have a better view of your vehicle.
Snow on the Roof
Don't let snow pile up on top of your car or truck. Peaks of snow increase drag and decrease gas mileage. And snow piled in your pickup's bed can obstruct both your view and the view of other drivers.
If you need to veer suddenly to avoid hitting an object in your vehicle's path, before turning, make sure you look in the direction you'd like to head towards to make sure the path is clear.
Alcohol is a Factor in Many Traffic Fatalities
These visual signs may help you spot an impaired driver:
- Stopping problems (too far, too short, or too jerky)
- Straddling a lane line
- Swerving or drifting
- Weaving across lane lines
- Accelerating or decelerating for no apparent reason
- Slow response to traffic signals
- Turning with a wide radius
- Driving without headlights at night
- Varying speed
- Stopping in a lane for no apparent reason
- Failure to signal or signal inconsistent with action
Let An Expert Inspect
Making sure your vehicle is in peak condition is another excellent way to help you drive safely. Stop by your GM dealer and let a Goodwrench technician give your GM vehicle a Goodwrench Multi-Point Vehicle Inspection. Your technician checks many areas (27 points in all) that can assist in safe driving - including wiper blades, windshield cracks, tire wear, brakes, steering, suspension and taillamps - and will offer expert Goodwrench services if you need them.