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5 Tips for Driving in the Winter

December 9th, 2013

driving in the winterWinter – depending on where you live – generally includes months of snowfall, sleet and, as a result, slippery roads. For many drivers, winter driving can be a scary, nerve-racking experience.  Don’t let a little bad weather deter your plans to hit the road during the holiday season. Driving in the winter can be unpredictable, but, if prepared, you can learn to anticipate and handle certain winter-driving situations.

Prepare yourself for the season ahead by checking out our top five tips for driving in the winter.

Tip 1: The Greatest Preparation is Prevention:

When you’re facing uncertain weather conditions, the last thing you want to worry about is your car breaking down because of something you could have fixed. Before the weather gets bad, service your car. Get your battery, cooling system, windshield wipers and tires checked. Having your car stall at a busy intersection could, after all, prove to be just as dangerous as slipping on a sheet of black ice. There’s really no excuse not to follow this tip. You may not be the weatherman and can’t predict heavy snowfall, but you do have control over how your car is going to run when hitting the streets this winter.

Tip 2: Snow Tires, Invest in Them:

If you live in an area that experiences heavy snowfall during the winter season, make sure to equip your car properly. The best way to combat slipping while driving in the winter is to install a pair of snow tires. Think of these as snowshoes for your ride. These special tires have treads that dig through the snow and allow the vehicle to accumulate better traction. And, because these winter-driving wheels are made out of special rubber, they won’t freeze in chilling temperatures.  Most mechanics recommend that you install snow tires on all four wheels. But, if your budget is spread thin after all of the holiday spending this winter, make sure to – at least – install these special tires to the rear wheels on your car.

Tip 3: Keep a Safe Distance While Driving in the Winter:

Winter driving is, essentially, all about trying to gage how best to react to the elements of nature. So, if the weather is making visibility difficult, feather your brake pedal and give yourself some room while driving. Seeing another driver’s brake lights is going to be the easiest way for you to anticipate when you need to stop while driving in the winter. But, if you’re coming too close to the person in front of you, you’re not going to give yourself enough time to come to a halt – or swerve –in the event that your car does begin to slip.

Tip 4: Don’t Hit the Gas or Breaks While Turning:

When driving in the winter, turning can prove to be one of the toughest obstacles for many people. Some drivers believe that speeding up will make turning smoother. Others hold tight to the notion that slamming the brakes will help them ease into a turn. Both are untrue. The best way to avoid instantaneously hitting the gas or brake pedal is to know where you’re going. Anticipate where you’re next turn will be, so you don’t end up in a spontaneous swerving dilemma. This might be the season that you invest in a car that offers a built-in navigation system to alert you a few minutes before you need to enter a specific street, intersection or highway exit.

Always let your foot off of the gas pedal before you’re preparing to enter the turn. Then, continue to feather your brake petal gently as you turn your steering wheel.

driving in the winterTip 5: Don’t Freak Out When Your Windshield Fogs Up:

Winter driving can be scary, because you feel like you don’t know what to expect. But, the scariest part can be literally not being able to see out of your front windshield due to fog. In this situation, stay calm; it just means that condensation is occurring. Condensation might have been something that you learned about in your middle school science class, but it, very well, comes into play when driving in the winter. During the winter season, your car’s windshield is constantly coming into contact with cold temperature, so when you turn the heat on in your car, the warm air condenses — thus causing your front windshield to fog up.

This is an easily fixable problem. If your car has an A/C system, turn it on air-recirculation. By doing this, you’ll help keep the windshield’s temperature at equilibrium, balancing the collision of hot and cold air that’s happening in your car. Opening the front windows of the car will also help you combat the fog.

Driving in the winter doesn’t have to be something that you dread every year. Be prepared, be equipped and, most importantly, know how your car is going to hold up in winter-driving scenarios. Learn more about different car types, and how they’d hold up in the winter weather by checking out our car comparison tool. With our tool, you can see which car offers specific specs and features geared primarily towards winter driving.