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Driving an SUV in the Winter

January 15th, 2014


We all know that everyone on the road needs to be extra cautious while driving in winter. And even though the jury is still out about whether or not SUVs are better vehicles for winter driving than are smaller cars, there’s no question that SUV driving in winter requires a specific set of considerations–many different from the ones car owners have to make. There are a few techniques that SUV drivers can follow to be safe and responsible while driving in winter. Here are a few easy-to-remember tips to help keep you safe until the world turns green again:

Your SUV is not the bat mobile.
Don’t be overly confident! SUV driving doesn’t mean that you’re immune to road hazards when you’re driving in winter. Just like smaller cars, SUVs are fully capable of slipping, spinning out and sliding off the road. Your SUV is a great vehicle for winter driving but only if you are cautious and play things safe.

Being closer won’t make them go faster.
We all know that no matter what season it is or what kind of vehicle you drive, you should always keep at least one car length of distance between you and the car in front of you. When it comes to driving in winter conditions, it’s advisable to double that at least. Since SUVs weigh so much more than the average vehicle and it takes them longer to stop, you should maintain an even larger distance in front of you when you’re SUV driving in winter conditions. Give yourself plenty of time and space to hit the breaks.

Keep the cobwebs out of your gas tank.
Keep your SUV’s gas tank at least half full all of the time during the winter season. Fuel adds weight, and weight gives you traction, which is essential to driving your SUV in the snow and other winter weather conditions. Don’t forget that you’ll have to fill up your tank more often in the winter, too, since 4-wheel drive–traction’s trusty sidekick–burns more gas.

Get defensive.
Maybe you’re already aware of the bad rep SUV drivers have for being aggressive on the road and so are conscious of developing your defensive driving skills already. But especially as an SUV driver in winter, it’s important to be extra conscious of the other drivers around you. Even if you are doing everything perfectly, you are still at the risk of being victim to another driver’s mistakes. And remember–your SUV is not the bat mobile.

Be sure to take extra care when SUV driving in winter. When SUVs make turns at high speeds they can tip over. There is an even higher possibility of this happening when you’re winter driving. To get more traction, try lifting your foot from both the accelerator and the break when you make your turn. As you close out your turn, gently accelerate. This tactic gives you great control over your vehicle and will help you to avoid oversteering, understeering, and spinning out. Always take it slow and break sooner rather than later.

Check to see if your tires are ready for winter driving–especially driving over snow and ice. Don’t be overly confident that your vehicle has good traction just because it is an SUV, or that just because it is a 4-wheel drive vehicle that it has the right tires for winter driving. Check your tire pressure and tread more often during the winter season. If you are looking for additional safety measures, you can replace your current tires with tires made specifically for winter driving.