Winter Driving in Omaha, NE
Winter driving, particularly given the fluctuating and often treacherous nature of the weather conditions we experience here in Nebraska, is not to be taken lightly. In fact, there are a number of safety measures to be taken in order to ensure that you and your family can safely travel from Point A to Point B whenever it’s necessary to do so. While much of this might seem to be common sense for many of you who are reading this, it’s well worth revisiting this time of year just to make sure that all necessary precautions have been taken. Consider this a prime example where we can all get behind the Boy Scouts motto: Be Prepared!
First order of business – if your vehicle is due to for regular maintenance services, get them done now. Breaking down is never convenient, but it’s worse in the winter than any other time of year. Since bad hoses, belts, water pumps and spark plug wires can leave you stranded, it’s better to take care of them before cold weather really hits. It’s a far better option than spending the same amount of money after you’ve been sitting in your car waiting for roadside assistance. Taking your vehicle in for something as simple as an oil change also presents the valuable opportunity for inspection of other critical systems by your automotive professional.
“As we all know, winter can be rough on our vehicles,” says Mark Griger, owner of Fleetmark Solutions, LLC. “The easiest thing one can do to ensure a safe and problem free winter is to have your vehicle inspected. A pre-winter inspection can identify problems that will hinder your winter driving, from brakes, tires, and suspension to anti-freeze, fluids, filters, and your battery. Any of these things can turn an already bad day into worse or even dangerous day. We at Fleetmark Solutions will perform a thorough inspection on your fleet vehicle and compile a report for your review with any suggestions or recommendations. With this information a plan can be put together to ensure your vehicles stay on the road this winter. No appointments necessary. We look forward to serving you, and Happy Holidays to all of you and your families!
As his business specializes in the maintenance and repair of commercial vehicles and fleets, Griger also offers some insight on an issue that affects diesel-powered engines. “Diesel fuel can be a pest during the sub-freezing temperatures we experience in our area. Most of you reading this who drive or own these types of vehicles have probably dealt with this issue once before. At Fleetmark Solutions we use BG products that are specially designed to prevent fuel gelling or waxing. We can also treat fuel storage tanks for optimal protection. These products not only prevent those bad days in the winter, but with the cleaning aspects of the compounds, it will also keep your fuel system cleaner as well as those pesky fuel injectors that we all know can become quite expensive. Call us for more information. These programs are customized to fit your unique needs.”
Here are a few additional recommendations to consider:
- Read your owner’s manual (or go online!). Everything you need to know about scheduling your vehicle’s maintenance is detailed here, and being aware of the manufacturer’s guidelines provides a great amount of general knowledge for you as well as a baseline for general maintenance.
- Cold weather tends to bring out the worst in your car’s electric system. Connections that are gradually making their way loose or getting corroded, or batteries that aren’t the best quality or are going bad, are the most likely factors checked when the issue is presented as “my car won’t start.” Get these little things checked out regularly so they don’t create bigger problems.
- Believe it or not, you should make sure your air conditioner is properly functioning year-round. In the winter, your air conditioning system directly affects your defroster and your entire climate control system. Many times people drive with fogged up windows without realizing they are only one button away from being able to see! Make sure your blowers are set to recirculate and this will take care of the problem.
- Consider investing in a remote car starter. In the colder months, it is very important for the performance of the vehicle as well as your safety and comfort to warm your car up before you begin driving. Also, it is technically illegal to leave your car started and unattended. With a car starter, you benefit from security features as well as the obvious added convenience. If someone were to get in your vehicle while it was running, which is improbable as it remains locked until you are ready to get in, as soon as they hit the brake to take it out of park the system kills the engine. For those who already have remote starters, it is also important to remember to keep your blower fans on a higher setting when you shut your car off so when you turn on your car with the starter in the morning your system will already be working!
Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and at an accelerated rate during the winter when inclement weather conditions are far more likely to be present. As such, you’ll want to be adequately prepared in the event that you’re involved in one. There are precautionary safety measures you can take, such as ensuring your tires have the proper amount of tread and avoiding being out on the roads if possible when the weather is bad, but there are other things to keep in mind once the damage is done.
“As the owner of a vehicle, it’s important to be aware that you have the right to have it repaired by your professional of choice,” emphasizes Boyd Dingman, owner of Dingman’s Collision Center. “So many times insurance companies and their adjusters will try to direct you to a place that may not necessarily have your best interests in mind. However, if you know ahead of time where you would have your car repaired in the event of an accident, it makes it that much easier to be firm with your decision when discussing the specifics as opposed to getting swayed into taking your car to a place you are unfamiliar with. It also makes it easy to contact your collision center to set up the initial estimate and repair so that you are back on the road as soon as possible.
Vehicles are much more complex now then even how they were made five years ago, and there are many new techniques, materials, equipment, and so on for repairing them. For this exact reason, at Dingman’s Collision Center we feel that it’s critical to stay up-to-date on industry specifics and training. Moreover, with so many details that go into the repair of a vehicle, and many of them not necessarily visible to the untrained eye, you really have to trust that the work is being done properly and there’s unfortunately no way to know unless it’s done poorly and problems arise after the fact. When choosing your collision repair professional, it’s a must to make sure that they are well-equipped to do the work on the specific make and model of your vehicle. You can find this out simply by asking if the shop has undergone any recent industry training or has experience working with similar vehicles, or you could also do your research by checking out their website and social media posts along with any consumer reviews that are available.
In our business, word of mouth speaks volumes. Ask around to see who others you trust have used for collision repair in the past and then see whose name comes up more than once. If you have a mechanic who exclusively works on your vehicle, that would be a great person to ask for a referral as well. But above all, do your research and don’t just take an isolated recommendation at face value or the first recommendation that comes your way. Average truly doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to vehicle repair; you’ll want to work with a business that is focused on being the absolute best at what they do. Knowing who you are working with will make all the difference.
As long as you’ve done your homework before you are involved in an accident, you’ll be prepared to act accordingly. Make sure that all of the drivers in your family know the basics regarding what they should do in the event of an accident so that everyone is on the same page. My advice is to talk about it together, establish a family plan, and type up a sheet of important details and contact information to keep in the glove box of each vehicle. This could potentially include your insurance agent, collision repair center, towing company, AAA membership information, emergency contact information, and even any existing medical conditions for responders. After an accident it’s very common to be a little bit rattled so the more information you have available for those who are first on the scene, the better. We have a form on our website at www.dingmans.com that you can download, fill out, and keep in your vehicle in case of an accident.”
While the weather has been unseasonably mild this year, you can bet we’re in for some classic Nebraska winter storms before all is said and done. Be prepared, stay safe, and we encourage you to utilize the expertise of our local professionals!