On the road for the winter storm? Here’s what car experts say you need to get ready

Cars driving in cold temperatures.
Cars driving in cold temperatures.(WEEK)
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:43 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Blustery weather conditions are hitting the midwest at peak holiday travel times, as AAA reports over 102 million Americans will leave their homes for the holiday season.

It’s not clear how many of those 102 million are in the Midwest, or if they’ve changed their plans for the oncoming weather.

For those still looking to hit the road before Christmas Eve, Andrew King at Mid-Illini Auto in Pekin said there are three areas to check before hitting the road: tires, brakes, and windshield wipers.

25News is reporting hazardous and dangerous travel conditions for Thursday evening through Friday. The First Alert Weather Team advises against traveling during that time. Please see our weather reports for more information.

Tires will be crucial for gaining traction and staying the course through the high winds and snowy conditions. Mid Illini suggests checking tire tread and pressure either on your own or at a mechanic or tire shop. The suggested PSI for tires is listed on the sticker inside the driver’s side door.

Tread can be measured using a penny. Place the coin inside a tread vertically, with Abraham Lincoln’s head pointing down. If the tread cover’s the former president’s head, there is enough tread to drive safely. If it isn’t, the tires will need to be replaced.

Brakes, brake fluid, and other types of car fluids should be topped off and checked before heading on the road. Mid-Illini said they saw an influx of oil changes during the Wednesday leading up to the storm. Several of the cars brought in had older brake pads.

Windshield wipers won’t contribute to how the car runs, but they can improve visibility if the weather is snowy or there’s precipitation. Old windshield wipes usually leave streaks or don’t clear the window well.

For those leaving the car at home, it’s important to check the battery. Cold weather can kill a battery, especially one at the end of its life span. Car batteries tend to have a lifespan of three to four years, but they can be checked at auto stores or mechanic shops.

Despite the old advice to turn on cars and let them warm up during cold weather, King said modern-day cars can be left in the cold without much consequence.

“Coolant is rated for negative 30-degree temperatures, we’re going to get into sub-zero temperatures but to keep the fluids moving,” King said, “that’s kind of an ancient theology there as far as getting the fluids warmed up through the vehicles when they were carburetor driven, but these are all fuel injected so it’s a lot different of technology in these newer cars.”