Driving during the winter months can be quite precarious, depending on where you live. With snowy, icy roads everywhere, you need to exercise extreme caution when traveling. Most of the time, you’ll be unable to simply hop in the car and head to your destination. Winter driving requires a certain level of preparation to ensure both you and other drivers remain safe.
No matter what kind of car you drive or where you’re headed, knowing some basic tips and tricks for winter travel is important. Let’s explore the dos and don’ts when preparing for winter driving so you can safely arrive at your destination regardless of the weather.
Do: Always Wear a Seatbelt
Wearing a seatbelt is essential any time you travel on the road. However, it’s particularly important during nasty winter weather. During the winter months, roads are often icy and unpredictable. Therefore, you need to protect yourself and your family by always wearing a restraint.
If your car unexpectedly hits a patch of black ice and starts sliding or swerving off the road, wearing a seatbelt can absolutely save your life. If you’re traveling with young children, be sure they’re also properly restrained in their car seats.
Don’t: Risk It
If the weather is bleak and visibility is nonexistent, don’t venture out in your vehicle. Before you head out in the winter, be sure to check the latest weather forecast to know what to expect. A meteorologist can also provide guidance on if they think it’s safe to travel. If they suggest staying home, heed their advice.
When the weather is nasty, go out only if necessary. Even if you can drive well on snowy or icy roads, avoid taking unnecessary risks. A trip to the grocery store or your local convenience store isn’t worth injuring yourself or others, so wait until the weather has cleared.
Do: Drive Slowly
When the weather outside is frightful, drive at a slow pace. As we mentioned before, even if the roads seem clear, there’s always the possibility of invisible black ice. If you hit a slick spot, your vehicle can easily slide off the road.
When snow and ice are present, your tires don’t have the same amount of traction on the road. Therefore, you always need to lower your speed. Many people overestimate their ability to drive in adverse weather conditions, especially if they’re not used to doing so. To avoid harming yourself or other motorists, always drive slowly during wicked winter weather.
Don’t: Make Sudden Stops
Whenever possible, avoid sudden stops when driving in winter weather. The amount of inertia necessary to start moving from a full stop is much higher than if your car is already rolling. Therefore, slow down enough to be safe but keep your car in motion.
For instance, if you’re approaching a red light and there’s no one in front of you, try slowly easing off the brake until the light changes. It will be easier to accelerate if you haven’t completely stopped your car. Plus, if the roads are slippery, quickly pushing down on the gas pedal may cause your tires to slide, skid, or simply spin in place. Instead, gently accelerate and decelerate when the roads are messy.
Do: Carry an Emergency Kit
A discussion regarding the dos and don’ts when preparing for winter driving wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the importance of an emergency kit. You should have an emergency kit in your car year-round, but it’s particularly important to have during the winter months.
If you’re stranded on the side of the road or an accident has created a massive traffic jam, you should be prepared. Plus, the weather may be perfectly fine when you leave home, but it can quickly become treacherous and cause road closures.
To cover your bases, make sure your emergency kit includes the following:
- Food and water
- Warm clothing
- Necessary medications
- Ice scraper
- Snow broom
- Snow shovel
- Jumper cables
- External cell phone charger
- Warning devices (emergency markers or flares)
Additionally, if your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, have a bag of sand or kitty litter on hand. You can shake the abrasive material around your tires to provide better traction when you’re trying to free your vehicle.
Don’t: Drive on Empty
During the winter months, you want to keep your gas tank as full as possible. If you don’t typically pull into the gas station until the indicator light appears on your dashboard, it’s time to rethink your ways. Driving around with a full tank of gas will give you peace of mind if your journey takes longer than expected or if you get stranded in an unfamiliar area. Plus, having enough gas helps your vehicle perform better in frigid temperatures.
If you have an electric or hybrid electric vehicle, keep your battery charged and minimize the drain on it. In general, your battery is less efficient at lower temperatures, so keep your electric vehicle as warm as possible. To keep the battery in its optimal temperature range, plug your car in at night during the winter.
Do: Check Your Tires
Before you hit the road in winter, make sure you check the condition of your tires. To make your journey as safe as possible, you need to be certain your tires are properly inflated. The cold weather causes air to become denser, including the air inside your tires. This results in a drop in tire pressure that you need to monitor to avoid driving on underinflated tires.
Additionally, you’ll want to ensure your tires have plenty of tread. The tread is the rubber on the tire that touches the road. A low tread depth negatively impacts your braking distance and vehicle control, so you’ll want to make sure your tires are in good condition before you start driving. When the roads are covered in snow and ice, you need as much tire tread as possible.
At Fia, we offer a wide variety of high-quality products designed to keep your vehicle protected—regardless of the season. Our winter front grille cover fits on the front of your truck, van, or SUV. Made of heavy-duty quilted vinyl, the cover promotes better fuel economy and helps your engine and interior warm up faster. Get in touch today to learn how you can optimize your vehicle for winter weather!