With the arrival of winter, now is the time to be sure you’re ready to stay mobile, whatever Mother Nature may throw at us. Here are a few tips…
FOR YOUR CAR
1) Get your car’s battery checked. If it is weak or the terminals are corroded you won’t be able to start your car, especially in cold conditions. New batteries are worth the investment, if only for the peace of mind.
2) Check your tires. Colder weather means the pressure in your tires will go down so check your car’s manual and re-inflate if necessary.
3) Got antifreeze? It should be replaced every two years to a 50-50 mixture with water.
4) Oil change: as with your tires, lower temperatures will affect your engine’s “blood”, thickening it as it gets colder. Your mechanic or oil-change shop will know what’s right for your car. And forget that old myth of oil changes every 3000 miles: 5000 to 7500 miles between changes is now OK according to experts.
5) Windshield wipers should be replaced annually, an easy do-it-yourself project at any auto store. And don’t forget to fill the wiper fluid reservoir with something freeze resistant.
6) Be a Boy Scout and check your trunk for an inflated spare tire and all the emergency gear you might need: flares, jumper cables, first aid kit, thermal blanket, etc.
FOR THE TRAIN
Except in the worst blizzard conditions, the train will usually keep running (though sometimes at a reduced frequency). Though dependable, riding Metro-North and Amtrak in the winter is not without its challenges
1) Never assume it’s “business as usual” and that trains will be running on time in bad weather. Listen to the radio and consult apps like the MTA’s “TrainTime” and my favorite, “Clever Commute” for updates on service.
2) Give yourself extra time to get to the station and watch those icy platforms!
3) Dress for the bad weather. If your station’s waiting room isn’t open, call town hall or the police dept. In sub-zero weather that’s not just an inconvenience, it could be a safety hazard.
4) If you find a railcar that’s lacking heat, ask the conductor to write it up. Or use the www.MTA.info website to file a report yourself.
5) Most of all, give yourself extra travel time. Don’t stress about delays. At least you’re not driving on an icy parkway!
IF YOU’RE FLYING
1) When booking your flight consider your options. If you can’t find a non-stop, avoid connections in weather-plagued hubs like Chicago or Denver. Charlotte or Dallas have less chance of being snowed in.
2) Watch the weather and anticipate delays. If the airlines know a storm is coming they often waive re-booking fees if you want to fly before the weather hits or have to delay until after the airport re-opens and schedules get back to normal.
3) If the highways are a mess, try taking the train to the airport. LaGuardia and Newark are accessible by Metro-North and Amtrak, respectively, but Kennedy airport is a challenge.
Whatever your mode of travel, a little prep time now will help you get through winter unscathed.
Reprinted with permission of Hearst CT Media