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The first day of winter is just around the corner. If you live up north, you might have already started getting snowfall. That means it’s about time to get a refresher on driving safely in the snow or with harsh winter conditions.
Whether it’s snowy roads, heavy snowfall, fog, or icy streets that reduce traction, there are many potential hazards that practically any city and any driver can face. That’s no reason to worry, though. If you read our 12 tips for driving in the snow below, you’ll be well prepared for any snow or ice roads this winter season.
1. Keep Your Vehicle in Tip-Top Shape
If there’s any time of the year when your car should undergo some maintenance, it’s definitely right before wintertime. Get your car up to speed by checking its tire pressure, fluids, brakes, oil, and fuel. Much like how animals gather up food before hibernating in the winter, your car will need all the energy it can get to be as reliable as possible.
And if you plan on driving a lot in harsher weather this year, you might want to consider investing in a vehicle that is fit for the snow. Get the easiest possible shopping experience with Carvana. They allow you to do all of your car shopping online, from research all the way to purchase and shipping right to your home. It’s truly never been easier to invest in a new vehicle.
2. Drive Slower Than Usual
It’s very important to drive at a slower pace when on snowy or icy roads, or when snowfall has reduced your visibility. How to drive in the snow is not the same as driving in dry, sunny weather. The same is true for accelerating, decelerating and braking – be gentle on the road and the road will be more gentle with you!
3. Check the Weather and Plan Your Route Frequently
Traffic typically increases in winter since people generally have to drive slower, so you should take advantage of any weather apps on your smartphone to get a sense of how dense the snow will be. You can also use maps to chart your route if you suspect that the main roads will be clogged up.
4. Don’t Pour Hot Water onto an Iced Windshield
If your windshield is iced up, don’t pour hot or steaming water in the hope to hasten the deicing. Doing so may crack your windshield due to the sudden expansion caused by the hot water. Also, you can try spraying a deicing spray by mixing two-thirds rubbing alcohol with one-third water to speed up the ice melting safely. Just take your time and perhaps turn up the window defroster when deicing your windshield.
5. Stock Your Vehicle with Necessary Items
Your car isn’t the only thing that needs a check-up in winter – remember to take care of yourself as well! Always wear suitable winter clothing and keep your car stocked with things like extra snacks, blankets, and windshield scrapers (we like this one from Target) to remove all the ice off your glass.
6. Keep Your Tank at Least Half Full
There are many reasons to keep your gas tank as full as possible in the cold season. You don’t want any tough condensation to form in the empty portions of your tank. Plus, having extra gas will come in handy should your car get stuck in a patch of snow.
7. If You’re Too Worried About the Weather, Don’t Drive
Sometimes the best tip on how to drive in snow is not to drive at all. This is especially true for newer drivers but can still apply even to veterans. If the news is broadcasting something like a blizzard warning, perhaps it’s a sign that you should stay indoors that day.
8. Stay Calm in the Event of Skidding
Many people’s first instinct in the middle of a skid is to slam on the brakes or accelerate in a different direction. As a matter of fact, the best way to regain control of your vehicle is to slowly ease up on the gas, lightly turn into the skid, and then gently accelerate. It’s much easier than you may realize, so you have no need to worry if this common occurrence happens to you.
9. Consider Equipping Your Car with Winter Tires
While it may be a little costly, getting winter tires is probably the best thing you can do to prepare for snowy and icy roads. With their softer compounds, they provide superior traction on snow, slush, and ice. You’ll greatly reduce your chances of skidding and you’ll have more control over your vehicle. If snow tires are a bit much and you are traveling to the snow for just a weekend, be sure to get some snow chains for your tires.
10. Keep More Distance Between Yourself and Other Drivers
The general rule is that the harsher the winter conditions, the farther away you should be from the driver in front of you. Everyone on the road is calmer and more comfortable when they aren’t being tailgated. Help keep the road a safer and nicer place and give everyone a suitable amount of breathing room.
11. Beware of a dead battery
Winter weather takes a significant toll on the battery. So always make sure the battery is in a good shape by getting the battery and your car’s alternator tested frequently either by a car battery tester or by taking it to the shop. Also, it is a good idea to keep a portable battery jumper inside the car just in case.
12. Only Drive If You Are in Good Condition
Both you and your car should only go out on the road if you’re both ready and prepared. Your body and mind should be in a good mood so that you can drive as effectively and responsibly as possible. Always be looking way ahead! While this is a good rule for driving in any season, it’s especially true during winter. Looking ahead farther than you normally would help you detect any patches of black ice, roadside construction, and maintenance, or any other drivers that are experiencing road trouble.
More Travel Advice
As we said above, if you plan to make it to your destination safe and sound, you have to follow the rules of the road. Take care of your car, but absolutely take care of yourself, too.
If you’re too hungry, treat yourself to a hot meal before heading out. If you’re sick or tired, feel free to give yourself a coffee, a nap, or some medicine and tea. You’ll perform better when it comes to how to drive in snow when you’re not cranky or groggy!