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Preparing For Michigan Winter – What You Can Do To Make Sure Your Car Is Safe

December 3, 2020

News Flash: The forecast calls for a good chance of freezing temperatures and blowing and drifting snow this winter. But Michiganders already knew that was coming.

But what you may not know is how to prepare your car for optimal performance when the snow banks get high, and the roads are coated with black ice.

Accidents Increase in Inclement Weather

Unfortunately, Michigan is the most dangerous state for winter driving. We see about 50 road deaths every year in our winter months. And in 2019, there were a total of 12 fatalities alone on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

In addition, Michigan Traffic Crash Facts found that 14% of all Michigan car crashes in 2018 happened when winter road conditions included snow, ice, or slush. More that 8% of all fatalities in the state’s auto accidents that year occurred on winter road conditions that involved snow, ice, and slush. Blowing snow also was a factor in numerous accidents and fatal crashes.

A Michigan Winter Car Checklist

Because of the increased danger of winter driving, you should make sure to do these tasks to prepare your car or truck for a Michigan winter:

  • Check your tire tread depth, look at switching to winter tires, and adjust the tire pressure for cold temperatures;
  • Check the oil level, and change to a winter oil with the right viscosity (thickness) for Michigan winter driving;
  • Check all your fluid levels, and always make sure you have enough cold weather windshield washer fluid;
  • Check the antifreeze for the correct winter mixture;
  • Check your wiper blades and replace them if worn;
  • Make sure your head and tail lights and signals are working, and clear any grime or snow that’s accumulated on then;
  • Test your battery;
  • Examine your belts and hoses;
  • Check the brakes; and
  • Check the heater and defroster.

Also, if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you should check the status of your four-wheel-drive system to be certain it’s working correctly. Unless you’re an off-road enthusiast, you may not have used your 4WD since last winter. You should be sure that the 4WD system engages and disengages easily and is supplying power to all four wheels of your vehicle.


Prepare an Emergency Kit

Your vehicle should have an emergency supply kit stored in the trunk. These kits should be checked every six months. Throw out expired items and replace them to keep it up-to-date.

While you may assume that some burgh in the Upper Peninsula holds the record for Michigan’s coldest temperature, but in February 1934, Vanderbilt in the northern part of the LP saw the temperature plunge to 51 degrees below.

Although it may not get that cold when you run out of gas or hit a snowbank late at night in the woods, you still may be waiting some time for assistance. That’s why you should have an emergency supply kit that contains the following:

  • A blanket;
  • Extra boots, a warm cap, and gloves;
  • An extra set of warm clothes (perhaps long underwear);
  • Water and food (like energy bars);
  • An ice scraper and a small shovel;
  • A flashlight and flares;
  • Extra windshield washer fluid and perhaps a spare set of windshield wipers;
  • A pair of jumper cables;
  • A basic tool kit;
  • Tire chains;
  • Tire-changing equipment;
  • A first-aid kit; and
  • A bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, or non-clumping cat litter) to give you some extra traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.

Know What You Should Do If You Get Stranded

If you are stranded on a remote Michigan road in winter:

  • Remain by or in your vehicle;
  • Ignite two flares and place one at each end of your vehicle;
  • Put on the extra clothes and use the blanket to stay warm;
  • Provided you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes for each hour you’re waiting for help.
  • Keep one window slightly open, so snow and ice don’t seal the car shut; and
  • Suck on a hard candy to keep your mouth from getting too dry.

Contact us

A traffic crash was reported every 1 minute and 41 seconds in Michigan in 2018. And the chances that you or a family member will be involved in an auto accident increase during a Michigan winter. You should know that injured victims may be entitled to compensation for serious injuries.

For a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney in Grand Rapids or the surrounding area, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital, to accommodate you.

Contact us today!