With winter just around the corner, some of us may be starting to already dread the upcoming snow, depression, and cold weather. Of course, we will embrace it for the first week or so. We’ll need to be prepared, though! Winter driving is nothing to laugh about, and you’ll need to make sure that your vehicle is completely ready (Whether or not you will be is a completely different question). The following are some tips as well as a checklist to becoming ready for winter weather driving.
Tires are one of the most important parts to consider when it comes to winter driving. The biggest difference about driving during the winter vs. during the summer or warmer weather is the fact that you are likely driving on snow and/or ice the majority of the time during the winter. Not only will you need to drive slower, you will need to give yourself a great deal of distance to stop the car safely. However, you’re probably never going to stop in time for an intersection if your tires are very worn. Make sure to have new tires on the car (especially winter tires, ask the store you get your tires from for these + siping) well before the winter season starts, and be ready to drive with them! Worn tires are extremely dangerous, as you’ll be sliding all over on the road and will never be able to stop without skidding.
Brakes are equally important, and you may not notice that your pads are drying out or getting worn down during the summer simply because it is no issue to stop in time. During the winter, every extra bit helps. Make sure to get your brakes checked, or check them yourself if you are able. Brake pads and roders are both relatively cheap and easy to put on.
Check your fluids. As with any time, you’ll need to check your antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, power steering, etc. before you take off. If you are lacking in any of these, you may find yourself in trouble soon down the road! Not to mention, changing oil regularly and keeping a good supply of clean coolant will greatly increase the quality of your drive, and the life of your vehicle. Many will say that they tend to burn through more fluids during the winter months. This is likely because people do not check it nearly as often during the winter (it’s so cold out there!).
Headlights, tail lights, brake lights, etc. Make sure to check these and walk around the car to make sure that they are all functioning. You may be less apt to pay attention during the winter. However, police officers are still just as likely to pull you over and write you a ticket!
Ice scrapers and heating for the windshield and back window may be necessary, on some days you may wake up to see your car is completely frozen over. Scrape what you can off with the ice scraper, then turn on the heat and allow it to thaw before driving. Some days you may find yourself driving with tunnel vision unless you are prepared. I’d always set a few minutes aside before headed to work in the morning to let my car heat up (and defrost).
Most importantly, make sure to give yourself extra following distance, more time to start, more time to stop, and always drive to the conditions. There is no need to travel 50+ mph down a frozen highway. You may be fine, until you have to stop, then you’ll be one of the people you passed that were on the side of the road.