Helpful Winter Driving Tips

When the temperature drops and bad weather rolls around, road conditions become unsafe very quickly. The best advice is to always stay home if you have inclement weather conditions in your area. However, for some of us that live farther north, driving in winter is a necessary part of daily life. So, for those times when you can’t avoid getting on the road, here are four winter driving tips to get you home safe.

black-framed-rear-view-1986119

Before you go off driving into a blizzard, you always want to make sure that your car or truck is ready to handle the worst conditions. Here’s a checklist of things you should run through before you get in your car or truck in winter.

Keep a Bundle of Supplies in Your Car

If you need to drive when the road conditions are poor, make sure you’re prepared. Have a stash of warm clothes, a flashlight, and some food within reach of the driver’s seat. It might sound extreme, but people from the tundra-states know: cold weather kills people. Are you going to get trapped in your car? Probably not, but you could easily get stuck on the side of the road. Trust us, you’ll be glad you had the extra supplies if it happens to you!

hero image

Have the Right Tires

The first question to ask here is: “What kind of tires do you have?” All-weather tires can suit your needs if you live in an area that doesn’t regularly get a lot of snow. However, for folks who live in places with a 6 or 8-month winter, having a dedicated set of winter tires is a must. They provide the extra traction that can keep you from getting in an accident.

Also, make sure you check your tire pressure! Keeping your snow tires properly inflated lets your tires get a more aggressive grip on the snow to increase traction.

Some conditions require you to put chains on your tires. To learn how to put on chains, check out our blog here.

car-road-snow-winter-12875

Top off your tank

Not only does keeping a half-full gas tank keep your car running better, but it’s also a safety issue. Having that half tank is going to keep you from getting stranded on the side of the road waiting for help. Better yet, if you get yourself in a tight situation, you’re going to have the extra gas to run your car and stay warm while you wait.

Make sure if you are running your car to keep warm that you keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be a very real danger!

Winter Driving Tips

black-car-on-roadway-while-raining-during-nighttime-754147

In addition to our preparation tips, make sure that you know your car's safety features. Knowing what your vehicle is made to handle will help to inform your ability to make it through that blizzard.

Knowing whether you’ve got anti-lock brakes, for instance, gives you an idea of what your car can handle. We might think that we need to make this trip through a blizzard. However, if you know what your car can handle, you might think differently.

black-side-mirror-2768303

If you’ve lived in a place with snow your whole life, this might seem pretty obvious. If you’re new to a snowy area, though, it’s something you need to keep in mind! Your car or truck performs much differently on snow and ice than it does on the pavement.

Make sure you accelerate and decelerate slowly on icy roads. Hitting the gas like you’re taking off in a drag race will just spin your tires over the snow without biting into it. Also, make sure you never put your car in cruise control when the weather is bad. You need to stay alert and ready for anything.

Increase Your Following Distance

We’ve all been on the road and had a tailgater that was just too close for comfort. Tailgating is very dangerous even when the roads are clear and dry. It’s far more dangerous on icy roads. The necessary braking distance can increase by ten-fold in icy conditions.

No matter how much traction and winter preparation you have, you can’t account for other drivers. Always stay on the side of safety and keep that following distance as far as possible. If you have someone on your backend, just pull over and let them pass. If they can’t be safe behind you, let them just pass on by.

Make sure you’re keeping your foot close to the brake as well. Even if you have anti-lock brakes, you want to always have your foot ready to apply pressure to that brake pedal.

snow-covered-red-sedan-730901

One of the most difficult parts of driving in the snow is actually getting your vehicle to stop and go. Once you’ve got the inertia behind you, it’s much easier to keep moving forward. So don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re slamming on the brakes trying to get to a full stop.

Drive slowly! If you see a stoplight coming up, just slowly cruise toward it. The slower you’re going, the easier it will be to come to that full stop if you need it. If the light turns green before you get there, you won’t waste time and gas spinning your tires to get going, either.

Winter driving can be tricky business. If you’ve never done it before, take a little time to do some practicing in a parking lot. You want to know how your car reacts to snow, but it’s also important to know how you react to snow. Keep these driving tips in mind this winter, and keep yourself safe!

If you need a vehicle that can handle a tough winter, take a look at our selection of great vehicles! Having a 4-wheel or all-wheel drive truck or SUV can help you get traction in the heavy snow. Even in a 4x4 truck, it’s still important to drive cautiously in the snow and ice.