What do I need to do to prepare my car for the cold mornings of autumn and slippery roads covered in leaves?
The first thing to do is to check your tire pressure. When you leave your warm garage and go out into the colder weather, your tires can lose inflation pressure. Even if your vehicle is not in a garage, you will likely need to add air after the summer months. For every 10 degrees the temperature drops, the tires will each lose approximately 1 psi. A symbol that looks like an exclamation point inside parentheses will generally show up on your dashboard to let you know the pressure is too low. Feel free to stop by Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion’s Service Department for us to check your tire pressure.
Tire pressure is important because it can affect steering, handling, gas mileage, and the life of the tires. Every vehicle has its own ideal PSI. To find your recommended pressure, check the label on the driver’s side door jamb or your owner’s manual.
I’m glad you asked about the leaves on wet roads, because drivers usually don’t consider them as dangerous as driving on ice or snow. But when leaves accumulate on wet roads, they can get extremely slippery, making the driving conditions similar to driving on ice. If the temperature drops below freezing, the wet leaves will freeze and the roads become more dangerous.
Besides reducing the car’s traction, causing skidding and the possibility of losing control of the vehicle, leaves may cover the white lines, making it difficult to see lane markers.
Tips for driving on wet roads:
• Slow down if you are driving on a road covered with leaves, especially when driving around turns to avoid skidding or rollovers.
• Allow yourself plenty of room to stop in an emergency.
• Keep a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Leaves also make it difficult to see potholes and bumps in the road, which can ruin your tires.
• When driving in neighborhoods, keep in mind that a pile of leaves raked to the side of the road is an inviting place to a child. Children enjoy jumping into the leaf piles or burrowing down into them and hiding. Never drive through a leaf pile. Use caution going around turns and where children are playing.
• Keep leaves off of the windshield and wiper blades to maximize your visibility while driving. Be sure to replace your wiper blades if you haven’t in the past year.
• In order to avoid the possibility of a fire hazard from the exhaust system or catalytic converter, never park your vehicle over a pile of leaves.
• On foggy nights, please use your low beams. Drivers tend to turn on high beams in the fog and that could blind an oncoming vehicle. Keep your headlights clean and free of debris and be certain all lights are in good working order.
Some ideas for celebrating Halloween
Instead of “trick or treating” this weekend, you may want to take your children to one of the exciting Halloween events in the area such as “Witch’s Woods Haunted Hayride” at the Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford (www.witchswoods.com) which has six events in one place including a haunted mansion; or Canobie Lake Park’s Screeemfest (www.canobie.com/screeemfest). Of course, it is always exciting to be part of the biggest Halloween celebration city in America—Salem, Massachusetts! For events in Salem, go to www.hauntedhappenings.org or http://www.salemweb.com/calendar for more information.
If you want to take a ride down to R.I. this weekend, try the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at the Roger William Park and Zoo in Cranston. It is a nighttime display of 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns all along a beautiful Wetlands Trail, with more than 100 pumpkins carved into unbelievable individual works of art. More information is available at www.rwpzoo.org. I haven’t been there, but it is recommended by AAA as a worthwhile spectacular event!
With Halloween on the weekend this year, there will be many children out walking in the dark, and teens out late celebrating. This is one of the most important times to drive slowly and defensively on city/town roads and in neighborhoods. Let’s make this a safe Halloween, free of accidents.
Have a happy and safe Halloween!