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Gephardt Gets It: Winterizing your car could save lives

By Bill Gephardt | Posted - Oct. 24, 2012 at 8:57 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — Preparing your car for winter not only makes sense, it could save your life.

What began as a normal freeway drive ended in tragedy for Gina Rinehart. She suffered the deaths of both of her brothers at different times, both because they had car problems. They pulled over on the freeway and were fatally hit by another driver.

Mike Banks, a personal injury attorney, said, "If your car is not properly maintained, it could put you in a really risky situation."

Banks said the results of not maintaining cars range from inconvenience to tragedy. But he said if your poor vehicle maintenance causes an accident, it might also put you at the lousy end of a lawsuit. He says he sees it often.


The most serious of injuries could be prevented pretty easily by taking 15 minutes on a Saturday to walk around your car and make sure your (car's) lights are working, that the tires are in good order, that the brakes are working properly.

–Mike Banks


"I think the most important factor in there is realizing not just the financial cost of being sued or subjected to a lawsuit or dealing with your insurance company after you've caused an accident, but the human toll," he said.

Banks said when preparing their cases for injured people, lawyers sometimes actually look to see if a poorly maintained car may have caused the accident. He says he makes sure that will never happen to him.

"Now is a really good time of year to take a moment, get out and really make sure your car is ready for the winter," he advised.

Compared to the national average, Utah is at the low end for these types of accidents because of state laws requiring safety inspections.

Winter Car Tips
  • Remove leaves, twigs and other debris
  • Check your tires' condition
  • Check tire pressure
  • Check your windshield wiper blades
  • Make sure battery is fully charged
  • Check the anti-freeze, which may not need changing (see owner's manual)
  • Carry a survival kit
Source: Kiplinger's

Ryan Jones at Powertrain Perfection said auto shops see a lot of heaters and defrosters not working in the winter. Driving while looking though a small defrosted clearing in the windshield is dangerous.

Jones said maintenance is worth the money.

"It's cheaper to maintain a car rather than wait until it's falling apart. That's when it gets really expensive. Maintenance in the long run is a lot better than major repairs," he said.

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Bill Gephardt

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