When it comes to driving in the colder months, there are many situations that could daunt the inexperienced or cautious motorist, not least of which are the perils of ice and snow under your tire treads. Be in no doubt though, driving when the weather is cold is more difficult that when conditions are optimal. Nevertheless, proper preparation for winter involves more than just adopting some new driving techniques or remembering to be a bit more careful behind the wheel. A sensible driver should also be sure to prepare their actual car for the winter months – not just the way in which they drive it – as cold weather and the inner workings of your vehicle are not always the happiest of bedfellows.
Motoring problems in cold weather can range from the simply irritating – iced up windows, chilly interiors, or sluggish ignition – to the downright dangerous, such as icy roads and poor visibility in a blizzard. These problems can also be exacerbated depending on where you live, and you might experience problems on the road when you are far away from somewhere this auto repair in Arvada shop, which poses a whole other challenge in itself. For simplicity’s sake, and to cover the widest range of possible issues, this guide will concern driving in areas where cold winters are typical and snow and ice fairly normal phenomena in the winter months.
And to add a third element for consideration, it is important to equip your car with certain items that can come in handy during the winter. Especially as one of the most common problems experienced in cold climates is not necessarily accident or disaster, but a car getting stuck somehow, either after being out on the road or in whatever place it was parked the night before. The thing about winter weather is that it can often turn on a dime – and you do not want to be ill-prepared when it does.
What Vehicles Perform Best in Cold Weather?
But before we get into all the tips and tricks for preparing your car for cold weather and driving safely through the snow and ice, it might be worth considering what vehicles are actually best equipped for coping with both the temperatures and under-wheel conditions of colder climates. And the first thing to note here is that, even though your car might be travelling over well-paved roads, tackling adverse winter conditions can certainly be considered a form of off-road driving. When the ice and snow are covering the road, your tires simply don’t grip as well and are no longer travelling over the road conditions for which they were manufactured.
Therefore, it is normally SUVs and other types of powerful offroad vehicles that can handle winter conditions best. If your car is adept at driving through slippery mud or over uneven surfaces, then chances are it can handle most snowy or icy conditions. There are several online lists which can give you a good rundown of the latest models best equipped for cold weather. But let it be sufficient here to note that if you are looking for the best type of vehicle to tackle the cold, go with an SUV or some other kind of off-road vehicle.
Tips for Winter Driving
So, what are the top tips for winter driving? Well, as we have already mentioned, these can be roughly divided into two categories – how to prepare a car for the oncoming winter and how to actually drive in wintry conditions. We will begin the former, so here’s how to prepare for safe winter’s driving well in advance, before the weather hits.
Stock Up Your Car with Cold Weather Gear
One of the best ways to drive safely during the winter is to actually have a range of items on board that can help you out in adverse winter conditions. The most important among these are a glass scraper to clear up your windows if they ice over, a car snow-shovel, which will be essential to get you moving again if you get caught in a snowdrift, plenty of warm clothing, and a flashlight to see you through any uncomfortable periods stranded in your vehicle waiting for help to arrive. You may also wish to get yourself some extra fuel too, should you run out en route and find yourself a way away from the nearest town or gas station. Bonded Oil runs a monthly giveaway of free oil to customers so, if you’re in New York or New Jersey, you may wish to sign up for their services so that you can both get your fuel and be entered into the giveaway.
Check Your Oil and Anti-Freeze
You should never be going into winter without a full tank of fresh oil. Oil can lose its potency over time and is essential to prevent your car from seizing up when the temperature drops. It will need to be fresh and there will need to be enough of it before any chance of that comes along. Therefore, wait until the coldest weather has just been forecasted before you stock up on oil. And in addition to oil, it is also obviously a good idea to have anti-freeze to hand.
Check Your Car Battery
It’s well known that the cold weather can sap a car battery’s ability to hold charge and cause it to run down faster. If your car battery is on its last legs, then it might just be the winter that finishes it off. Do not put yourself in that position. Car batteries are easy to buy so if you have a Toyota, simply search for quality Toyota batteries. If you’re not sure how to install a battery, take your car to a mechanic and they’ll be able to sort it for you.
At this point, it might be prudent to add some winter weather driving tips into the mix:
Despite how obvious this tip sounds it is actually easier said than done. Obviously, you cannot be driving so slow as to hold up traffic or to endanger faster moving vehicles and of course, you will soon find that going about your daily business at a snail’s pace the whole winter long is not going to become a sustainable habit. However, you should certainly account for the lessened traction under your tires and go slower than you otherwise would. Also remember to be extra careful when taking corners. After all, you don’t want to cause an accident that could have otherwise been prevented. Even though you don’t have control over other motorists, you have control over your own safety. At the same time, make sure you have enough insurance as you don’t want to be the driver that doesn’t have enough in the event of an accident (learn more about what to do if the driver doesn’t have enough insurance here). However, if all motorists follow these rules, the risk of an accident is reduced.
Be Very Careful on Hills
The reason for this tip is obvious, but what does being careful on hills actually entail? For one thing, it is important not to power up the hills. The lessened traction will just cause your wheels to spin, and you will risk losing control of your vehicle. Instead, try to get a little momentum up before you reach the bottom of the hill and then let that carry you up. When coming down, it is important to get a feeling for your brakes – keeping your heel on the floor, keep a firm and steady pressure on the brake pedal with the ball of your foot.
Take Extra Care on Long-Distance Trips
If you have to travel long distances in the winter, then the chances are you are going to be traveling across some areas that are not particularly densely populated and are therefore dangerous to get stuck in during severe winter weather. As well as making sure that your vehicle is well-prepared for the trip (see above), you should also ensure you never leave your vehicle and attempt to walk anywhere. Your car is a temporary shelter and will keep you safe until help arrives. A final point involves all long-trips – make sure you have enough gas.
Winter conditions are something that millions of people in many different places on Earth deal with every single year. There is no reason why you cannot successfully navigate them as a motorist. Just be sure to prepare and, above all, to drive safely.