Cold weather is on its way: How should you prepare your car or truck for Oregon’s winter storm?

Cold weather is on its way: How should you prepare your car or truck for Oregon’s winter storm?


With snow, freezing rain, and bitterly cold temperatures in the possible forecast for northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington this month, people are wondering how they can prepare for winter driving conditions and keep their car or truck in good shape.

FOX 12′s meteorologists say the forecast looks increasingly wintry for even lower elevations of northwest Oregon as cold air moves in, just in time for one of the busiest holiday travel days of the year.


Car Preparation:

  • Make sure your vehicle has proper traction. Snow tires and/or chains are often the best options in snowy conditions. Carry chains or tire socks and know how to put them on.
  • All-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive systems can improve traction in many situations; however, they don’t provide significantly greater traction on ice.
  • Have your battery and electrical system tested. Most batteries have a life span of about three years and may not turn over in cold weather.
  • Check all fluid levels, including anti-freeze, transmission fluid, brake fluid and engine oil.
  • Make sure all lights operate properly.
  • Inspect tires and brakes. Tires with less than 4/32″ of tread will have reduced traction in wet and snowy conditions. Make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Check windshield wipers and washer fluid levels.
  • Keep the fuel tank at least half full and make sure your electric vehicle has enough range in case you get stuck or encounter long traffic delays.


Winter Driving Kit:

  • Keep an emergency kit in your car with tire chains, abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, small shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, ice scraper, rags or paper towels, flares or other warning devices, booster cables and a first aid kit.
  • Bring blankets, jackets, hats and gloves for you and your passengers.
  • Pack water and snacks, such as energy bars, and bring pet food if you’re traveling with four-legged friends.
  • Keep the pandemic in mind. Bring extra face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.
  • Charge your mobile phone before you hit the road.


Drive Smart:

  • Slow down on snow- and ice-covered roads.
  • Leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you. Allow at least three times more space than usual.
  • Make gentle stops and starts to prevent skids; don’t brake or accelerate quickly.
  • Don’t brake and turn at the same time as this can make your tires lose traction.
  • Steer out of a skid. If your vehicle begins to skid, take your foot off the brake and the accelerator and look where you want to go. Gently steer the car in that direction, keeping both hands on the steering wheel.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes as this increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes.
  • Don’t power up hills because this may only result in spinning your wheels. At the same time, don’t stop while traveling uphill as it can be difficult to get going again.
  • Know what type of braking system you have and how to apply brakes properly (for example, don’t pump anti-lock brakes. Instead, firmly press the brake pedal.) Downshift to a lower gear to reduce speed.


Use Common Sense:

  • Dress according to weather conditions and bring an extra coat, gloves and a change of clothes in case you get wet putting on chains or tire socks or changing a tire.
  • Let family members or friends know your travel plans, including destination, route, and expected time of arrival so they can alert authorities if you don’t make it to your destination.
  • Don’t blindly follow your navigation system. If it directs you to a road that doesn’t look maintained or well-travelled, turn around!
  • If you do get stuck, stay with your vehicle. It’s easier for the authorities to find you there.


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