December 10, 2020

Driving during the winter months can be super stressful, especially in snowstorms and icy conditions. By getting your car ready for winter and using some simple tips to drive safely, you can face almost any weather Mother Nature decides to send your way.

Prepare Your Car for Winter

In addition to annual maintenance, here are some tips to winterize your car:

  • Test your battery; battery power drops as the temperature drops.
  • Make sure the cooling system is in good working order.
  • Put winter tires with a deeper, more flexible tread on your car.
  • If using all-season tires, check the tread on your tires and replace if less than 2/32 of an inch.
  • Check tire pressure; the pressure will drop as the temperature drops
  • Check your wiper blades and replace if they show signs of wear and tear.
  • Add wiper fluid rated for -30 degrees
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. This is to avoid gas line freeze and to be prepared in the event of road closures and detours.

*Remember to keep your car’s emergency preparedness kit fully stocked.

Before You Head Out

  • Clean your car’s external camera lenses and side view mirrors so you’ll be able to see what’s around you.
  • In frigid weather, you may want to warm up the car before you drive it. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never leave a vehicle running in your garage – even with the garage door up
  • If there is a storm in the forecast, wait it out if possible; if you must travel, share your travel plans and route with someone before you leave.
  • Remove dirt, ice and snow from sensors to allow the assistive-driving features like automatic emergency braking to work.

How to Avoid a Crash

AAA offers the following driving tips:

  • Remain calm and try not to panic.
  • Avoid using cruise control in wintry conditions.
  • Steer in the direction of a skid, so when your wheels regain traction, you don’t have to overcorrect to stay in your lane.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  • Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds.
  • If possible, don’t stop when going uphill.

If visibility is severely limited due to a whiteout, pull off the road to a safe place and do not drive until conditions improve. Avoid pulling off onto the shoulder unless it is an absolute emergency. Limited visibility means other vehicles can’t see yours on the shoulder.

What is Your Car is Capable of?

My Car Does What? is a national campaign to help educate drivers about the safety features built into their vehicles. Search for your car and find out what safety features are already built in.

Traction control is now standard on most new vehicles. This function helps your vehicle gain traction on snowy, icy or wet surfaces, particularly when accelerating from a stopped or slowed position, or when trying to make it up a slippery hill.

Anti-lock braking system (ABS) helps you steer in emergencies by restoring traction to your tires and is standard on most new vehicles as well. ABS may vibrate or pulse when engaged. This is normal. Continue to press and hold pressure to the brake pedal.

Remember, you are your car’s best safety feature. Take precautions to ensure you arrive safely at your destination. If you become stranded in an unfamiliar area, do not leave your car. Light flares in front and behind the car and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or objects.