Many people don’t learn how to drive in the winter, which can lead to accidents. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, then you know what the first big snowstorm of the season brings: a barrage of slides and fender flares. Even though it can be dangerous to drive in the snow, a little preparation and caution can go a long way.
To avoid getting caught off guard by the winter weather, here are some tips to help you drive safely and confidently.
The “Do’s” of winter driving
Preparation is key when driving in the winter. Here are some things you should do before the first snowflakes fall:
Make sure your mechanic performs a “winter check” of your car before the winter season starts. They will check your brakes, coolant, and other items to ensure your car is ready for winter.
Make sure all of the belts on your car are in good condition. If there are any cracks or frays, get them repaired or replaced.
Prior to winter, do complete any repairs (that you are aware of) and routine maintenance.
To ensure that your battery is functioning properly, test it periodically. There is a variety of inexpensive millimeter or dedicated car battery testers available at auto parts stores.
If necessary, replace your battery. A battery that barely holds a charge is less likely to provide enough starting power in cold weather than in warm weather.
Purchase snow tyres, or at the very least all-season tyres, for your vehicle.
When selecting tires for your vehicle, be aware that all-season tires are not a good substitute for snow tires, although they are better in snow than summer tires (which are like driving on ice skates).
Be sure to get snow tires for your car-or at least all-season tires. This will ensure that you can drive safely in snowy conditions.
Check tire pressure (lower in cold weather)
Make sure you have a set of chains in your trunk in case you need them.
Be sure to refuel your windshield wiper fluid.
Do think about replacing your wiper fluid with a combination designed specifically for winter.
It is always a good idea to check your windshield wiper blades for wear or damage. This will help keep your vehicle clean and clear while driving. It is important to have properly functioning wipers when it is snowing or when a semi trailer is kicking up slush into your windshield.
Make sure your car headlights are all working
Make sure you have an ice scraper in your car in case you get stuck on the side of the road.
Make sure you have jumper cables
It’s always a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full, in case of an emergency. If your tank doesn’t have enough gas, the fuel lines can freeze. This can cause your car to not start.
“Don’ts” for Winter Driving
In order not to be “that guy” on the roads during a snow storm, here are some rules for driving in winter:
Do not warm up your car in an enclosed space such as your garage. This will expose you to carbon monoxide, which can kill you.
Do not idle your car for several minutes before starting it. Drive slowly at first.
If you want to avoid getting into trouble, don’t tailgate. It takes twice as long to come to a complete stop in snowy conditions.
Don’t overreact when you make a mistake. If you’re in a car and someone in front of you stops or slows down suddenly, it’s better to pull over to the side, if possible.
If possible, don’t stop. It’s harder to come to a complete stop when your car is “rolling”.
Keep going up the hill–it will be easier to move forward once you reach the top.
Avoid trying to accelerate too quickly up a hill; this will likely result in your tires spinning.
Don’t take the risk of driving on roads that are bald, worn down, or in the summertime, when the tires are not effective.
Avoid using the brakes (if you have an anti-lock brake system, which virtually all modern cars do)
Never use cruise control when driving. This is because even brief periods of rapid acceleration or deceleration can make your tyres lose traction.
Don’t assume other motorists are adept at driving in the snow.
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