Preparing Your Car For Safe Winter Driving

by Felix Ray

Depending on where you live, driving in the winter can be a minor inconvenience or a terrifying endeavor. If you live in areas with snow and ice, driving often requires a total change in strategy, as well as the addition of tools like tire chains and ice scrapers. Preparing your car for winter driving involves more than making sure you've remembered your tire chains, and can mean all the difference when you're on the road.

Keep Your Gas Tank Full

You can get away with running on fumes during warmer months, but you don't want to risk that you'll be stuck out in the cold and running on empty. Keep your tank full at all times to make sure that if anything happens, you can keep your heater running, devices powered and your battery charged. If you do get stuck, this lets you keep your lights on as well. Finally, this can prevent the gas line from freezing up.

Take Care Of Your Tires

The winter months are when you want to be absolutely sure that your tires are in good shape. If your tires don't have good tread, you'll need to get them replaced; treads are what push water and snow out from under your tires and give them traction. If in doubt, take them to an auto shop like Jensen Tire & Auto to get them inspected and get any advice you might need. Avoid mixing radial tires with other types of tires; this can negatively affect how your vehicle handles.

Additionally, make sure your tires are properly inflated and have the correct tire pressure. Underinflated tires can increase braking distance and affect steering and handling, which is already heavily affected by snow, water and ice.

Make A Winter Safety Kit

If you plan on doing any driving in the snow, it's a great idea to make a kit with necessities to store in your vehicle. An ideal kit contains a cell phone, blankets, water, food, hats and medication you may need if you become stuck. If you don't have a spare cell phone, make sure you have a cell phone charger for your own cell phone. A rechargeable battery for the purpose of charging cell phones is a good addition to this kit to make sure your phone doesn't run out of juice at a crucial moment.

Brush Up On Snow Driving Tips

Even with good chains and good tires, you'll still need to know how to handle your car in snow and ice. Learn how to avoid understeering and oversteering, when to switch into low gear, what to do if your vehicle starts to slide and how to pull out of a skid. If possible, find a safe place to practice where there are no other cars or people. If you can't practice, study the driving tips and remember not to panic; you will often be able to avoid any accidents and stay out of trouble if you remember to drive safely and what to do if a problem should arise.