It’s winter. Okay, officially not until December 21, but we think more than half of the U.S. would heartily agree that winter has already arrived. Safe winter driving requires knowledge, preparation and nerves as cold as the temperatures outside. As Mother Nature unleashes her icy wrath, take a moment to review these tips and tricks for driving in a winter wonderland:
Vehicle Preparation Tips
The cold temperatures and unpredictable precipitation can be tough on roadways and even tougher on your car, truck or SUV. Help minimize the impact of the harsh conditions, make sure your vehicle is ready.
- Check Your Windshield Wipers – Think driving in the rain with streaky wipers is tough; it’s that much worse when snow and sleet is falling. If your wipers are in need of replacing, now’s the time to do it. Driving through a blizzard is tough enough without having to contend with unnecessary smears across your field of vision. Also make sure to keep your windshield washer fluid topped off. Grab a spare bottle or two and stow it in your trunk or cargo area for emergencies.
- How’s that Battery Holding Up? – It’s always important to have a professional look over your battery and charging system before the cold temperatures put added strain on them. Most newer vehicles won’t require regular battery service. But if you’re driving a car with a few miles or years on it, you want to make sure your battery can handle the coming winter. The last thing you want is an old battery leaving you stuck when the temperature reaches a new low in your area.
- Keep it Cool – Don’t let the name fool you, your coolant system is very important when driving in winter conditions. Not only does antifreeze prevent your car from succumbing to the cold temperatures, many can experience engine overheating problems as winter temperatures cause issues in the cooling system. Make sure your coolant is at the levels recommended in the owner’s manual and perform any needed maintenance on the coolant system. When in doubt, have the system tested by a professional.
- Have an Emergency Kit Ready – When weather conditions make driving impossible, or an unforeseen issue has you stranded, have supplies on hand. Emergency response can take added time in winter conditions, so make sure you’re ready. A well-stocked emergency kit should include: a snow brush and ice scraper, a blanket to keep warm, spare gloves and boots and some rations in case you’re stuck on the side of the road for a bit.
Do’s and Don’ts of Winter Driving
The easiest way to stay safe during winter weather events is not to drive in them. But if you must, here are a few recommendations that can help you get from A to B as safely as possible.
- Slow down and give yourself lots of room to stop. When roads are slick, every second counts.
- Make sure your windows and headlamps are completely clear before driving. Poor visibility is dangerous for you and everyone else around you.
- Use low gears for maximum traction on slippery or snow-covered roads.
- Switch to snow tires.
- Use cruise control when traveling in slippery conditions.
- Drive distracted. Keep your phone away and your eyes on the road.
- Be overconfident. Just because you may have four-wheel drive or snow tires doesn’t make your vehicle immune to poor driving conditions.
Winter driving requires patience, preparation and a light touch on the controls. Slowing down and being extra-aware of your surroundings can go a long way to ensuring a safe trip even in challenging driving conditions.
What’s the best advice you have for driving safely through the cold, ice and snow? Leave them in the comments!
Do you have a winter driving tale that you’d like to share with other Ford Social fans? Don’t leave them out in the cold, submit a story and share the experience!