Driving during harsh winter weather conditions is not a matter to be taken lightly. According to the Federal Highway Association, over 18,000 people die per year from driving in icy or snowy settings, roughly the same number as texting and driving fatalities. When you’re driving in non-ideal conditions, you need to be prepared! Keep reading for our essential winter driving tips to keep yourself and everyone else on the road safe and sound.
Prepare Your Car: Steps to Take Before You Hit the Road
It is important to fully check out your vehicle before you even leave the garage. A simple malfunction in the winter can turn dangerous fast. Here’s what you should do before putting your car in drive.
Check All the Lights
Ensure that all your lights are working properly: headlights, brake lights, emergency flashers, turn signals, and interior lights. It is hard enough to see as it is, making this step imperative to your safety out on the road.
Windshield Wiper and Fluid
Check to make sure all your windshield wipers are working, front and back. If you will be driving in rain, hail, snow, or wind, you will need functioning windshield wipers to keep your windshields clean and your visibility as high as it can be.
Replace blades that are worn, and consider investing in some winter blades made specifically for snow and ice if you live in a particularly cold area. Also be sure to check the fluid and defrosters, as a single snowstorm can quickly drain a full supply. Make sure you are using winter fluid with de-icer capabilities.
Check Your Coolant Supply
Make sure you are equipped with enough coolant according to manufacturer recommendations. If your car is low on coolant, it is unable to supply any to the heater core, which then produces that much needed warm air. Be sure to check for any leaks, and replace old coolant if needed.
Inflate Your Tires
Make sure your tires are inflated according to manufacturer requirements, and check the tread. A tire blowout can turn catastrophic, especially in icy conditions. You should check your tire’s air pressure at least once a month.
Install winter tires to ensure adequate traction. It is recommended to install these tires before the weather hits 45°F. Winter tires are the only tires equipped to deal with black ice and deep snow.
Keep Your Gas Tank Full
Never drop below a half tank of gas. Letting your tank drop low, especially lower than a quarter tank, causes your fuel pump to drag in air, heating it up until it leads to future expensive repairs.
Keeping your tank half full is also a safety feature in case you get stranded on the side of the road. If you have a full tank, you will be able to keep your car running, and yourself warm.
Plus, if you’re stuck in awful traffic, you won’t have to worry about running out of fuel in the middle of a busy freeway.
Where to Warm Up Your Car
While tempting to avoid the cold winds altogether, it is not a good idea to warm up your car inside an enclosed area (like your garage). The exhaust can build up in the closed area, and in extreme cases, cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Open your garage door, turn your car on, and back out immediately.
Ditch Cruise Control
Although cruise control is super convenient and amazing on long trips, you shouldn’t use it on slippery roads. If you encounter standing water, cruise control at a fast speed can cause your car to hydroplane.
On icy or snowy surfaces where your traction is lower, cruise control can result in skidding or spinning. The bottom line — ditch cruise control to stay on the road!
Keep a Safety Kit in Your Car
Keep a kit packed with winter essentials in case of an emergency situation! Here’s some key things to include: heavy jackets, food and water, flashlights, glass scrapers, medications, blankets, a first aid kit, and anything else you can think of.
Trust an Expert
While this may seem unnecessary, it could end up saving your life. Before the coldest times of year, get your car checked out by a mechanic for any general issues, such as leaks, braking problems, and parts that may need replacing. It is better to be safe than sorry. The money you’ll have to forgo for a check-up is a small price to pay for your safety!
Thanks for reading! We at VIP European Auto are ready to help with all your interior detailing needs. Click here for more information. Stay safe out there! And check out part two of this blog for winter driving tips once you’re out on the road!