Icy Roads

Vehicle Preparedness for Front Range Winter Weather

It’s fair weather from Salida to Lamar and from Alamosa to the Springs right now, but Coloradans know wintry weather can hit in a flash! Two weeks ago Governor Bill Ritter, Jr., declared our “Winter Weather Preparedness Week” – now, did you really get ready?

Out here along the Front Range, we’re more comfortable with freezing temps and snowy weather than most places. But that doesn’t make us immune to the stress brought on by the possibility of car accidents on icy roads and vehicle breakdowns in cold weather. Most of us aren’t equipped to do anything more than tinker under the hood of our cars, if that. So what’s the best way to make sure our vehicles are mechanically ready for winding winter roads? Find a good mechanic before an emergency hits! Around here, winter weather preparedness is just one of a mechanic’s specialties. Don’t be afraid to ask for tips! The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has this list of topics ready for you to discuss when you take your car in for winter weatherizing:

  • Is my car battery charged and are the connections good and clean?
  • Are my windshield wipers in good condition? Should I get winter blades?
  • Are my coolant/antifreeze, motor oil, and wiper fluid fresh and full? Are there any leaks?
  • What grade oil is best for my car in the winter?
  • Are my tires in good condition? Do I need snow tires?
  • What do I need to know about chain regulations?
  • How’s my ignition system?
  • Is my car’s thermostat working?
  • Do I need to replace any headlamps? Do the bright, fog and brake lights all work? Do my hazard lights flash?
  • Is the exhaust system functioning properly?
  • Do I need to replace my brakes or brake pads?
  • Is the defroster working well enough to clear ice from the windshield?
  • Do I have all the proper tools for de-icing my car?
  • Is my emergency kit stocked and easily accessible in the car?

Once your vehicle is cleared to hit the slopes, will you be? Recent transplants and lifelong Southeastern Colorado residents alike can brush up on tips for avoiding winter car accidents, vehicle maintenance, snow chain laws, and what kind of snow removal to expect from the Colorado Department of Transportation at CDOT’s “Slick Tips for Winter Driving” brochure. Unfortunately, winter weather breakdowns and snowy highway car accidents are inevitable. Visit the FEMA “Before Winter Storms” web page and check off all that needs to be stocked in your emergency kit, just in case you do end up stranded with your vehicle this winter.