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Thread: Winter survival tips

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Winter survival tips

    Winter survival tips
    By Eric Peters


    Having four-wheel-drive to get through the winter is nice -- but there are other things that can be just as useful as a two-speed transfer case and knobby tires.

    These include:

    * A full tank of fuel: You never know when you might get snared in the Mother of all Traffic Jams -- caused by a sudden snow, or by a careless driver who thinks having an SUV means he can drive 70-mph on ice accordioning himself into the rear end of a semi. Few things are as miserable (or as dangerous) as having to hoof it during a blizzard because you ran out of fuel. In addition, keeping the tank topped off will help condensation from building up in your fuel tank (water in the gas), which can cause hard starting, stalling and rough-running.

    * New windshield wipers: Many people don't realize that wiper blades are pretty much shot after six months of driving and should be replaced. In winter, blade life can be even shorter. The rubber blade loses its "edge" -- and instead of a clean sweep, you get a streaky windshield and Mr. McGoo visibility. Not the hot ticket at 50-mph when a passing road salt truck blasts you with dirty slush. Also make sure to periodically check and top off the windhsield washer fluid jar located under the hood. The supply can run dry quickly in the winter -- when you're often pushing that "wash" button every couple of minutes just to get a momentary glimpse of the road ahead.

    * Cell phone: Though over-sued and sometimes annoying, but the one undeniable benefit of cell phones is immediate access to help in an emergency -- whether it's a wreck or just a breakdown. Even if you don't use one regularly, having one inthe glovebox that's for emergency use only is smart policy. It's also a lot less expensive; just buy a plan that provides the bare minimum coverage -- enough to dial 911 (or friends and family) in the event you get in an accident -- or just hopelessly stuck.

    * A compact shovel and gloves: You never know when you might need to dig your way out of a snowbank -- or just get down to pavement so your tires will be able to bite. The gloves are almost as important; always keep a pair in the vehicle during the winter months. A heavy sweater/coat and waterproof parka is also highly recommended.

    * Money: Always keep at least $20 bucks in cash money on hand; you never know when you might need it and wherever you are (or whoever it is) doesn't take plastic. A twenty will get you some snacks, or fill the tank -- and at least partially cover a cab ride/towing bill/hotel sufficiently to get you in the door until friends/family can get to you with the rest.

    Common sense -- and forbearance -- will get you through the rest.

    If it's a major blizzard, the smartest thing to do is stay put and consider it an unexpected holiday. No matter how accomplished a driver you may be, you're bound to run into someone out there who isn't. And no matter how manly your 4x4 is, you can rest assured its path will be blocked by something that should never have left the garage.

    END

  2. #2
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Winter survival tips

    One of the most useful tips was omitted:

    If you find salt being used on the roads - MOVE! Chemical deicers are a severe threat, not only to the life of your car, but to your wallet as a local taxpayer. If the local officials are so stupid that they can't provide motorists with a sensible means of gaining driving traction in inclement weather then you are much better off taking you and your loved ones to a more hospitable area.


  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Winter survival tips

    I am grateful they do NOT use that stuff on the Blue Ridge Parkway (though on other local roads, they use it with abandon). Amazing it's still legal given the enviromental issues....

  4. #4
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Winter survival tips

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    Amazing it's still legal given the enviromental issues....
    It's cheap in the short-term and expensive in the long term, but your local politicans probably only look at the short-term. Most of the voters never realize that salt is the reason that the Piney Hollow bridge needs replacing after 14 years, even though it had a projected life of 30, so they bite the bullet and approve the bonds that add a hefty chunk to their taxes.


  5. #5
    DonTom
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    Re: Winter survival tips

    "If you find salt being used on the roads - MOVE! Chemical deicers are a severe threat, not only to the life of your car, but to your wallet as a local taxpayer. If the local officials are so stupid that they can't provide motorists with a sensible means of gaining driving traction in inclement weather then you are much better off taking you and your loved ones to a more hospitable area."

    Moving might not help much, in many cases. Cars move. That means we might go to places where salt is used, such as the way to our house in Reno from here in SF. Here, it has only snowed two days in the 57 years I've lived in this area. It can snow like crazy on the way to Reno or even in Reno.

    I recall hearing somewhere that there are four types of chemicals that can be used, put all just called "road salt", some are more harmful to cars than are others. Each has its own advantages, disadvantages and price. Of course the least harmful road salt to cars is the most expensive and rarely used.

    But IAC, the roads are a lot safer with the salt than without it. It's a lot better to have a rusted out car than a car that's totalled out from an accident in the snow.

    -Don-

  6. #6
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: Winter survival tips

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    But IAC, the roads are a lot safer with the salt than without it. It's a lot better to have a rusted out car than a car that's totalled out from an accident in the snow.
    You're missing several important points. First of all, the chemical deicers are only good for a certain range of temperatures. Salt, for example, is very effective just a the freezing point of fresh water. Drop the road temperature to about 24F, however, and the road is more slippery with the salt than without it.

    Secondly, all of the various chemicals spoil roadside vegetation and the streams into which the road drains.

    Thirdly, the chemicals cause rapid deterioration of bridges, overpasses, and the like. If salt is used where you live and pay taxes then you are paying too much.

    Sand is the only non-destructive, non-harmful method for improving traction on snow or ice. The excuse used out east is that the land is so flat that the sand won't wash away, but in the Sierra Nevada that doesn't hold true.


  7. #7
    DonTom
    Guest

    Re: Winter survival tips

    but in the Sierra Nevada that doesn't hold true.


    I am not sure what they use in the Sierra's. Perhaps it is sand, but I think it's still called "road salt" by most people. And yes, I recall hearing that the road salt is only used at a certain temperature range.

    -Don-

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