5 Tips to Help an Older Loved One Winterize Their Car
As your loved one ages, she or he may drive less. Older adults might take shorter trips, less frequently. But that doesn’t make car safety any less important. It’s easy to neglect maintenance on a car that isn’t driven very often. That can lead to big problems if your loved one gets stuck in the cold weather or worse, the snow.
Here are six tips to help you get started.
Tip #1: Start with an Oil Change and Basic Maintenance
Helping your loved one winterize their car could start with scheduling an appointment at the local mechanic and bringing the car in for an oil change and tune-up.
During this appointment, the mechanic should:
· Check and top off any fluids, including anti-freeze, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid (washer fluid should contain an anti-freeze solution)
· Check the wiper blades
· Check and change air filter, if necessary
The mechanic might recommend using a thinner, less viscous oil that won’t freeze when temperatures drop.
Tip #2: Check the Treads on the Tires
When you bring your loved one’s car in for routine maintenance, the mechanic should also check the treads on the tires and maybe even rotate the tires.
If your loved one doesn’t drive very often or very far, it may not be worth it to invest in snow tires for the winter months. But the treads on all-weather tires should be in good condition.
You can also check the treads yourself. Place a penny, with Lincoln’s head upside down, into several tire treads. If you can see most of Lincoln’s head, the treads are worn and it’s time for new tires. If the tread covers most of Lincoln’s forehead, the tires are probably okay.
Also look for uneven wear, or spots where treads are more worn down than others, which could indicate a problem.
Tip #3: Check the Tire Pressure – Repeatedly
In addition to checking the tires for wear, check the tire pressure using a tire gauge. If you don’t have a gauge, you can use one at the air fill station at most gas stations.
The correct tire pressure should be printed in the car’s owners’ manual or on a sticker on the driver side doorjamb.
The air pressure in tires sometimes drops in cooler weather. Make sure tires are properly inflated and re-check them any time there is a significant change in outside temperatures.
Tip #4: Review Road Safety
While it’s important not to be condescending to a senior loved one; you should take time to review winter driving safety tips.
Reiterate what your loved one should do if they begin to skid out. It’s always best to steer into the slide.
Make sure your senior loved one knows if they are uncomfortable driving in inclement weather to call you for a ride or for help exploring and arranging transportation.
If your loved one has all-wheel or four-wheel drive on their vehicle, make sure they know how—and when—to use that setting to improve handling in the snow and ice.
Tip #5: Don’t Forget the Lock De-Icer
There’s one more item your loved one will need this winter. But don’t store it in the car! Make sure your loved one has lock de-icer on hand. Suggest they keep it near their car keys, perhaps on a shelf or in a drawer near the front door.
Does Your Loved One Have What They Need for the Snow?
Finally, winterizing your loved one’s car also means packing items your aging loved one might need in a weather emergency.
Make sure your loved one’s car is stocked with:
· An ice scraper
· Light snacks (such as granola bars)
· A small shovel
· Jumper cables or portable battery charger
· Cell phone charger compatible with their phone
Does Your Loved One Really Want to Drive This Winter?
These tips can help your aging loved one stay safe on the road all winter. But they won’t need a car at all if they move to a Five Star Senior Living community before the snow flies. Our communities provide local transportation as needed, another way to save on expenses while maintaining independence.
Contact us to find out what other benefits and amenities await at Five Star Senior Living.