DNY Editorial Services
Owning a vehicle in New York — or, for that matter, any large city — is expensive and often inconvenient at any time of the year, but winter can be especially challenging.
That’s because bad things can happen to good vehicles that sit untended or are used only occasionally during the cold-weather months. Batteries can go dead, tires can lose air, radiators can freeze up, windshields can become iced, wipers can be damaged. And that’s all before the car is ever started.
Fortunately, there are some simple precautions you can take to avoid these pitfalls and they can often be obtained for less than $30.
MetLife Auto & Home, a subsidiary of MetLife, today (Jan.22) issued a list of inexpensive items motorists can obtain to insure some peace of mind when the ice forms, the snow flies and the fog descends.
• Buy a battery tester for about $1. Cars are harder to start when the temperature is low, and a battery which has started to lose its cranking power can quit suddenly and leave you in a lurch.
• Buy an antifreeze tester, another inexpensive item. If temperatures dip below the freezing point of your coolant, it can solidify, expand and ruin the radiator. Worst-case scenario: the engine can be ruined if it overheats because there is no coolant running though it.
• Buy a tire gauge for a few dollars. Tires lose air as the temperature drops and they can be damaged or go flat if the proper pressure is not maintained.
• Buy windshield wiper refills that are designed to prevent ice and snow build-up. TheMetLife people estimate they will cost about $7. Poor vision is the cause of many accidents.
• Make sure the windshield washer reservoir is full and that the fluid can withstand the lowest temperature you expect to experience. Windshield wiper fluid costs only a few dollars. Spray from salted and sanded roads needs to be cleared often. That’s especially true when temperatures begin to climb above freezing,
• Make sure you have a sturdy ice scraper in the car, preferably a long-handled one with a brush to clear off snow.
• Equip your cargo area with a folding shovel (about $7) and a bag of kitty litter (about $2) so that you can dig yourself out of a parking space or snow bank.
• Carry a comfort kit –old blankets, hats, gloves, scarves and other items found around the home – so that you can keep warm if you are stranded for an extended period of time.
“Just a few precautions can make a big difference . . .” said Rick Ward, director of auto claims. “For very little money you can help ensure easier and safer travel this winter.”