Jan 172007

In order to avoid a messy disaster when a snowstorm hits, experts have some very sensible tips to get through treacherous conditions.

Some of the winterizing essentials include having good tires, proper wiper blades, a fully functional windshield washing system with plenty of fluid, an emergency kit, a full tank of gas and a dig-out shovel.

Many experts believe having a good set of tires, perhaps, is one of the key elements in safe driving.

“In college, I realize that a lot of students cannot afford a lot. If you cannot afford a full set of good tires, then make sure that you put your best tires on your driving wheels,” said Jim Davis, owner of Davis Repair in Englewood. “Safety depends on good tires.”

L.J. Houska, owner of Houska Automotive Services on Riverside Avenue, agrees that good tires are vital.

“Low tread can make a big difference in how the car drives,” Houska said.

Many Coloradans spent most of their break experiencing the harsh realities of blizzards by being stranded on the side of the road or having travel plans ruined.

By being prepared, much of the mess and disaster could have been prevented, according to many car maintenance specialists.

“The fact that many people were not prepared caused a lot of problems,” Davis said. “Simple things that can be done for a car in winter, such as having a full tank of gas, were not done. The dilemma could have been avoided if people would have thought ahead.”

Carrying a car safety kit, experts say, is also a good idea. Kits should include non-perishable food, a flashlight with batteries, bottled water, reflectors and flares, jumper cables, tools, tissue, blankets and medications.

“I see 300 to 400 cars a month, and they are supposed to have things like sleeping bags, (reflector) triangles, sand bags, and I never see it in cars,” Davis said.

Houska emphasizes the importance of antifreeze and battery checks as well as the use of higher-grade windshield wiper fluid.

“Something I think is really important is getting your antifreeze checked. If your antifreeze does not work, the heater will not work and the metal in the engine can get cracked,” Houska said.

Houska recommends not only having a full bottle of washer fluid handy but also keeping a higher grade, cold temperature washer fluid around for winter.

Davis and Houska say safety in winter conditions also depend on one’s driving ability.

“What we’re finding is that a lot of clutches and transmissions are burned out,” Houska said. “What happened is a lot of people were stuck and were not getting anywhere but kept pushing on the gas, trying to drive the car.”

There is some good news for students who haven’t winterized their vehicles yet; Jiffy Lube on College Avenue offers free antifreeze checks and a windshield washer fluid top-off.

Cars are not the only forms of transportation needed for winterization. Many CSU students rely on their bicycle to get around.

“A remedy for bikes that have been left outside in the snow is to put heavy lube on the chain if you want to salvage it, or just buy a new chain,” said Rich Hoffman, service manager of Lee’s Cyclery in Fort Collins.

Hoffman says that bikes are not meant for the winter weather.

“When a bike is exposed to snow and wet conditions, it needs a new chain and cable to help with shifting and braking, as well as a new fender,” Hoffman said. “All of these are affected by the weather.”

Hoffman says that if students want to avoid damage and having to keep up their bike, he suggests getting a bike without gears because they have less weather related problems.

Many students left their bikes locked to the racks during break, subjecting them to the winter weather. Hoffman says that those bikes have suffered a lot of damage.

“For those bikes that were left outside on a regular basis, I would estimate that at least 90 percent suffered significant winter damage,” Hoffman said.

Staff writer Taryn Clark can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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