Essential Winter Driving Tips Everyone Needs To Know
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Winter driving is challenging! Old Man Winter doesn’t care if you’ve ever driven through snow or ice before, and you can easily fall victim to his erratic whims.
Just as police, fire, and medical professionals train for disasters, drivers should prepare themselves before the cold weather hits. Stay safe on the road with these essential winter driving tips everyone needs to know!
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Winter weather is nothing if not unpredictable. That’s why the number one winter driving tip is to be prepared.
Easy Emergency Plan recommends a variety of emergency supplies that can help if you’re ever stuck in freezing weather. The basics include:
- High-strength ABS shaft, PC bristles, and EVA cotton handle engineered to withstand heavy snowstorms and temperatures as low as -40° F
- Quickly separate the brush and scraper for easier handling
If you frequently drive in slick conditions, brush up on what to do if you get stuck. And be sure to carry traction mats, tire chains, and a shovel.
You also might consider getting a good pair of gaiters. They will help keep your feet and ankles warm if you need to walk through deep snow.
Finally, if you travel with your pets, don’t forget their needs. Make sure you pack food, water, and other emergency supplies for them as well.
Know Your Vehicle
Another excellent winter driving tip is to know your vehicle and how it’s affected by the elements. Understanding this information could help you avoid accidents and breakdowns.
For those without much experience driving in snow and ice, it’s normal to be concerned about skidding. Luckily, a few winter driving techniques can keep you safe.
If you feel your car starting to skid, take your foot off the accelerator and gently steer into the skid. If you’re avoiding a collision, however, you’ll need to rely on your car’s anti-lock braking system (ABS).
According to Car and Driver, your ABS activates when you put your foot down hard on the brake pedal and hold it there. It’s normal to feel like your car is shuddering. Don’t worry; this means it’s working!
What about older vehicles that don’t have anti-lock brakes? In this situation, you’ll need to pump the brakes.
First, take your foot off the gas and press down on your brake. Make sure you don’t slam your foot down; instead, apply the brake firmly and in a controlled manner.
If you feel the brakes locking up, lift your foot up to release it and then reapply. Continue alternating your braking and releasing to decelerate the car.
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Reliable tires are a critical winter driving tip for staying safe in cold and snowy weather.
It’s important to know that tires lose pressure in cold weather. And driving with underinflated tires is dangerous, especially in poor conditions. So that’s why it’s a good idea to check your tire pressure routinely.
Many drivers new to cold climates ask if they need special tires or chains. The answer depends on how much snow and ice you get.
All-weather tires are a great starting point for most people. These tires are designed for year-round conditions, including wet roads and light snow.
When dealing with heavy snow and ice, you should consider winter tires (also called snow tires). These tires have tread rubber, tread depth and patterns, and biting edges engineered for unpredictable winter conditions. While they are not year-round tires, they are worth the investment if you experience harsh winters.
Sometimes you need more traction and control than your tires can provide on their own. That’s when you need tire chains.
Tire chains wrap around your tires to give you a better grip on the road. This helps you avoid getting stuck in the snow or skidding on the ice.
- Easy installation and removal in minutes with self-tightening ratchets that provide automatic tightening and centering
- Diamond pattern cross chain provides a smoother ride and superior traction
- Meets Class "S" clearance requirements on SUVs, pickup trucks, and passenger cars
Most people don’t think about their transmission unless it starts making noise. But did you know that your transmission is an excellent tool for driving in winter?
Shift your car into low gear when you drive on snowy, icy, or mountain roads. Low gear reduces speed and increases torque which improves the control.
It doesn’t matter if your car has a standard or automatic transmission. Both types allow you to shift into 1st or 2nd gear manually.
No one wants to get stuck outside in the cold of winter. That’s why understanding a few things about your car’s battery is another essential winter driving tip.
Car batteries create a charge through a chemical reaction between liquid electrolytes and lead plates. When the temperature drops, the chemical reaction is affected, and the strength of the battery is reduced.
The result is that winter puts a lot more stress on your battery. But there are a few things you can do to help:
- Whenever possible, park in a garage where your car is protected from the elements
- Give your alternator time to recharge your battery by taking your car for a 5-10 mile drive at least once a week
- Don’t just let your car idle in the driveway and expect it to charge the battery. This can actually shorten your battery’s life
- Get your battery checked as part of your regular automotive service
- Keep a battery charger handy in case you need a jumpstart
- 2000-amp portable lithium car battery jump starter is rated for gasoline engines up to 8-liters and diesel engines up to 6-liters
- Up to 40 jump starts on a single charge
- Multi-function car jump starter, portable power bank, LED flashlight, and 12-volt portable power
Electric vehicles are not immune to the effects of winter either. For example, a 2019 study by AAA found that cold temperatures cut an electric vehicle’s range nearly in half.
So, keep this in mind whenever you take your electric vehicle out during winter.
Drive With Caution
Even with tons of experience and safety equipment, the best winter driving tip is to always drive with caution.
Drive slower and keep a greater following distance between other vehicles. Also, try adjusting your plans to allow longer commutes.
Whenever possible, stay on the main roads as they are usually plowed more often. And get better traction by driving in existing tire tracks.
If you have experience driving in adverse conditions, teach your teens smart driving tactics. Find an empty parking lot and let them practice braking and steering on snow and ice.
It might be a frightening experience for you both. Still, it might just save their life later down the proverbial (and literal) road.
With 24-hour roadside assistance, discounts, travel planning, and so much more, a AAA membership never stops working for you.
These rules apply to all drivers, regardless of your vehicle or driving experience.
Your best course of action is to avoid driving in the worst weather, but that isn’t always possible. So the next best thing is to use these winter driving tips to stay safe on the road when Old Man Winter comes your way.
For more tips on emergency planning, check out the related articles below. And don’t forget to subscribe to Easy Emergency Plan for future updates!