Will you and your family be heading out on the road for Thanksgiving? According to AAA approximately 40 million people will travel 50 miles or more this year during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. GM spokesperson and auto expert James Bell joined me recently to discuss the most common problems drivers encounter on the road during the winter and how to avoid them, what you must check before you hit the road, how the sudden onset of colder weather affects your car’s performance, the must have supplies for surviving winter conditions, and much more!
Candace Rose: According to AAA approximately 40 million people travel 50 miles or more each year during Thanksgiving weekend. What can travelers do now to prepare their vehicle for holiday travel and winter months?
James Bell: “Well, also according to AAA- the two biggest reasons they get calls is for two easy things that we can check on ourselves in the driveway before you drive.
- The first one is the tires. These are your contact pads; your lifeline if you will with the road. If the tire pressure is not smart or not good, you’re going to be running a risk of losing contact, as well as impacting your fuel efficiency. Get out your owners manual, make sure you’ve got the tire pressure to the right level. Also, test them when they’re cold; not when they’re hot. When they’re warm it can overinflate the readings and that’s going to be wrong. Also, check the tread depth. If you know that you’ve been needing to buy tires for some time, the last time to test that is when you’ve got a car full of friends and family out during the holidays.
- The second thing to check is the batteries. I’m here with my friend Jeff from Chevrolet Certified Service. He says on the battery it’s real simple, just look at the two terminals (please see video above to watch Jeff demonstrate how to check your battery). If you see a lot of corrosion or dirt accumulated there, then take it in for servicing here. As Jeff’s showing you here, they can test that battery to make sure that it has enough juice to put out. During the winter time it requires more power to start the car because of the colder temperatures. Pretty small investment in a new battery compared to being stuck on the side of the road.
Another great and important thing to check, and is also very simple is the windshield wipers. Jeff why is that? What about the wipers should I be checking in on?”
Jeff: “You just want to check the blade and make sure it’s not dry or cracked. If it is dry or cracked it will not create the proper seal along your windshield.”
James Bell: “That’s a great point. Let’s be honest- it’s a simple thing, and when you hit the first rainstorm and you turn these things on and they’re just making a big smear, that’s a safety issue as well.”
Candace Rose: How does the sudden onset of colder weather affect our car’s performance?
James Bell: “Well, two ways. Number one: We suggest keeping more than a half a tank of gas (preferably full) in the car as much as possible because if there’s a lot of air space in the gas tank that can create condensation, which is of course going to inject water into the fuel system- that’s no good.
Secondly is just giving your car a chance to warm up. Nothing makes me crazier than to be somewhere on a cold day in a parking lot and see somebody start their car and drive off immediately. You’ve got to give the engine some time to get the oil flowing around. You’re protecting your own pocketbook if you do that. The best way to know when the right time to go is when you start to feel warm air coming through the heater vent, then you know the engine’s warm. It’s an easy thing, and will save you a lot of trouble down the road.”
Candace Rose: Is there anything else we need to do before taking a long trip?
James Bell: “I think a little preparation can really help. If you’re going to be doing some driving at nighttime, I suggest bringing along a flashlight and some extra batteries. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and can be really helpful and necessary if you get stuck along the side of the road.
If you also get stuck- some water for yourself and your passengers.
Let’s be honest- a First Aid Kit, an Emergency Kit and tools, these are something we should always have in the car with us. But if you’re going out for the holidays with friends and family, let’s be sure to do that now.
And talking about people in the car, something I think is interesting is bring along some extra medication. Let’s say somebody on board has requirements for some and you get stuck all of a sudden, you’re going to have more than a mechanical problem, you’re going to have a medical problem as well.
Also, some extra food. Some non-perishable food can always be in your car like some granola bars or some trail mix. Lastly, we learned this from the big hurricane in New York/New Jersey area is your cell phone. Make sure you bring along your car’s cell phone charger because the last thing you want to see is the sun starting to set while the battery in your cell phone slowly dies.”