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Get ready for winter
Art deWerk - photo by Contributed to the Courier

When the first rains come after a long, hot summer, many motorists find out that their vehicles are not ready for winter. It is just as important that drivers change their mindset for winter driving. We must be prepared to deal with the rain, fog, frosty mornings, and cold weather.

Starting with the critical vehicle equipment, windshield wipers are one of the most often overlooked, yet most likely items to need replacement. And if not replaced, the consequences can be dangerous during rainy or foggy mornings. Heat, cold and UV rays degrade windshield wipers rapidly, requiring their replacement every six months to a year. Even the most expensive wipers have a very short lifespan. Now is the time to replace them, especially if the ones on your vehicle are more than 12 months old.

Other vehicle equipment needing inspection before the cold weather sets in includes the defroster and heater. Tires should be in good shape with plenty of tread and the braking system should be inspected to make sure the anti-skid feature works properly and that the brake linings are still serviceable.
It is also good practice to keep fuel tanks at least ½ full in case it is necessary to stay in the vehicle for long periods of times; long distance travelers especially, should follow this advice. It is actually best to keep your tank as full as possible to keep moisture from forming and then pooling into water in the bottom. Water is an engine killer. It is smart to keep some warm clothes, blankets, water and some non-perishable foods in the car throughout the seasons when inclement weather typically happens.

In terms of motorist mindsets, it is important to remember that weather conditions and shorter hours of daylight make driving more hazardous during this time of year in general. For most people, it will be dark when driving to and from work. Ceres now has many schools, so the mornings require a lot of motorist vigilance to keep our kids safe. Wet roads are slick, requiring more distance to bring a vehicle to a stop. The holiday season can bring out the worst in some motorists, so there is also the potential for instances of road rage and other problems. Keep in mind also that there are intoxicated motorists driving our roads during the winter months, especially over holiday weekends. Basically, you have to be careful not only how you drive during these times, but you have to watch out for every other motorist on the road because so many of them are likely to be intoxicated.

We want you to have a safe winter, and with a bit of prudence, awareness and preventative steps, you can greatly increase your overall safety.