If you’ve lived in Nebraska long enough, you know what’s coming up in the next few weeks—adverse weather! Whether we have a mild winter like last year or we’re in for lots of ice, snow and sub-zero temperatures, we will all have to deal with a few weeks (or months) of driving in less than ideal conditions. If you commute out of town, this becomes an even larger issue, but even those of us who just drive around town need to be making preparations now to ensure your safety and comfort this winter season.

“My best advice for winter driving is to plan ahead,” says Jake Fredenburg with Professional Automotive Service. “If the weather is less than favorable, then give yourself extra time to get to your destination by leaving earlier. Bad things happen when you’re in a rush, especially when it’s slick.”

Preparing your vehicle is also important. “In the winter, the biggest concern in my opinion would be tires,” explains Jake.  “Since we did not have much of a winter last year, there are many vehicles out there that were able to get through the season on worn out tires.  Combine the lack of winter storms with a dry spring and summer, and now there is a large potential for problems.  Just remember, no tread, no traction.  You’re either not going at all, or you’re not going the direction you want to.”

Another safety issue is trying to drive without your windows being properly cleaned off. We’ve all been in a hurry in the morning and did a sub-par job of scraping frost, snow or ice off our windows, impairing our ability to see where we’re going. Solve this problem (and increase your comfort) by getting a remote car starter. Rick Quistad with Jones Automotive says, “Out of all the accessories we sell, remote starters are definitely the most popular. Who doesn’t want a warm car in the winter? And here’s a winter driving tip: before you shut your vehicle off and walk away, set your heater controls in the warmest position with your defroster on almost the highest fan setting. That way, when you hit your remote starter button, you will be driving in comfort with clear, safe windows.”

Of course, no matter how much you try to be prepared, accidents still happen. So what should you do if this happens to you? “If you get into an accident this winter, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone is ok,” Jake Fredenburg points out. “If help is needed, address that immediately.  Next, you will need to exchange information with the other parties involved, and file a claim with the insurance company of the driver who is at fault.  In some scenarios, determining who’s at fault can be daunting.  I recommend talking to your own insurance company, because they can deal with the other companies involved to resolve the situation quicker.  Often times, your own personal insurance company will just take care of repairs to your vehicle, and then deal with the other insurance companies involved after the fact.  This helps to minimize the down time to your vehicle.  Next, you need to select a repair facility.  Most insurance companies have shops that they like to work with, but remember that you have the right to take your vehicle wherever you desire.  That choice is yours and yours alone.”

“Obviously, it helps tremendously to have a good working relationship with your mechanic,” explains Rick Quistad. “When they know your history, they know what and when to recommend only the things that you need, thus saving you money and preventing disasters in the long run.”

Jake Fredenburg agrees by saying, “It’s important to develop this relationship so that in a time of need, you have someone you can trust and rely on. I have multiple customers who will come to our shop just for an inspection or for advice.  Sometimes, it’s a situation that the customer knows I don’t even do that type of work, but they come because I’ll give them honest advice.  They know that even if I can’t personally fix the problem, I will refer them to someone else who is reputable.”

Don’t let the winter weather affect your comfort or safety this year. Prepare your vehicle well for possible adverse conditions and make sure you have a mechanic you can trust so you know who to call if the worst happens!