How to Drive Through Winter Weather

How to Drive Through Winter Weather_700_325

Snow, sleet, ice and slush make the roads a mess during the winter months. When a winter drive is necessary, here are some tips to stay safe.

Prepare Your Car
There are several ways to prepare a vehicle for winter driving. Installing snow tires provides a car with extra traction on messy roads. Snow tires have deep treads that can grab snow and slush and provide a vehicle with greater stability. Putting chains on standard tires can work as well.

In addition to specialized tires, windshield washer fluid designed for winter precipitation can help improve visibility while driving. Winter washer fluid can break through the slush and ice that builds up on a windshield, allowing drivers to see the road ahead.

Slow Down
Knowing how to drive in inclement conditions is another key to staying safe on winter roads. Icy conditions mean that a car likely needs more time to come to a stop. Slamming on the brakes on an ice-covered road will make a car skid. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, leaving extra space between vehicles provides the car with the additional room it needs to come to a complete stop. Driving more slowly allows drivers the chance to brake gently, which decreases the risk of skidding out on slick roads.

Know How to Adjust
If a skid occurs, it is important to know how to handle it. In a rear skid, which is often called “fish tailing,” a driver should take his foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction of the rear skid. If the car starts to skid the other direction, turn the wheel gently to match the move. If the vehicle has anti-lock brakes (ABS), apply steady pressure to slow the vehicles. With standard breaks, pump the breaks to slow the car.

In a front-end skid, a driver should remove her foot from the accelerator and switch the car into neutral. Let the car skid; the car will achieve traction, at which time a driver can steer. Put the car in drive and proceed slowly.

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Getting Your Car Ready for winter

Getting Your Car Ready for winter


With frigid winter weather on the way for a large portion of the country, it pays to make sure your car is ready. The rigors of ice and snow can really take a toll on your vehicle. Here are some maintenance issues to handle before the first flakes fall.

A Tire Inspection

Your tires are what keeps you on the road in bad conditions, so you will want to check their condition and pressure before cold weather comes. You can insert a penny into the tread and see how much remains—make sure it goes in as deep as Lincoln’s head. The pressure can be checked at any gas station with an air machine, and you can add air at the same time, if needed. Should you live in an area that experiences a lot of snow, you may also want to consider getting a set of snow tires for more traction.

Change the Oil

Colder weather causes oil to get thick, so you will need to change out the summer-weight oil for something thinner. Your operator’s manual can advise you as to the proper type and weight to use in colder weather.

Wax the Entire Vehicle

Salt and other compounds used to treat the roads are corrosive, and sand and ash used for traction can create scratches in the paint. By carefully waxing the entire vehicle, you are applying a barrier that will seal and protect the paint and any exposed metal. This will help avoid scratches and rust.

Check or Change Your Antifreeze

Your antifreeze does exactly that in cold weather, but sometimes people top off the reservoir with water in the summer. The mix is supposed to be an even 50/50 split between antifreeze and water. Any additional water in the system can lead to freezing, which will damage your engine and rack up an enormous repair bill.

Check All Belts and Hoses

The rubber used in belts and hoses can become brittle in cold weather, so make sure they are in good condition. Also check the clamps for any sign of corrosion.

Taking the time to prepare your vehicle for winter will make for a safer driving experience and a worry-free holiday season. As always, consult your mechanic if anything doesn’t look right on your car or it isn’t operating properly.

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