When the weather gets colder, and falling snow makes everything look like a magical winter wonderland, you can’t help but think about cozy nights spent by the fire and the impending holidays.
Make no mistake about it though, driving in ice, rain, sleet, and snow can be extremely hazardous – and it doesn’t matter how used to driving in winter conditions you are.
The roads in winter have their own set of rules – but here are three ways you can stay safe while driving in the cold weather.
1. Check Your Tires
If you are planning a road trip or it’s just your daily commute, check your tires before driving anywhere on roads covered in ice and snow. Check the treads to make sure they aren’t worn out – damaged or worn tires will not grip the road effectively, leading to slipping, sliding, or losing control.
You should invest in a set of tires that have been designed for icy and slushy roads. Winter tires at Rivercity Motors will provide more traction than all-weather tires, ensuring that your car maintains its grip on the road.
You should also check your tire pressure before every trip – a tire’s pressure can drop by 1 to 2 lbs. every time the outside temperature decreases by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll need to inflate them more regularly in cold weather.
2. Check Your Brakes
Every time you go to the mechanic for an oil change, you must also get your brakes checked.
A squeaking sound that occurs when you apply pressure on the brakes could mean your brake pads are dangerously worn – if you hear any strange sounds while you are braking, get them checked immediately.
But your brakes need more than routine maintenance to ensure they function properly in winter conditions – you also need to use them correctly when you’re driving on the road.
In icy, snowy, or wet conditions, you should always slowly apply pressure to the brakes and leave yourself enough time to come to a steady halt before a stop sign or a red light. Hitting the brakes suddenly can cause your brakes to lock up, which could cause you to veer off the road.
If you are driving through a slippery patch of water or ice, you should slow down by downshifting before braking. Then, apply slow, even pressure to avoid locking the wheels. If the brake pedal drops and you can hear a grinding sound, that’s your anti-lock brakes (ABS) kicking in. Keep even pressure on the brakes and pay close attention to your steering.
3. Clear Ice and Snow from Your Car
You should check your windshield wipers to make sure they are working correctly – you need them to clear away any snow, ice, or rain from your windshield. Check the fluid levels and refill them if required. However, it pays to remember that your windshield wipers won’t do all the work.
Just doing the bare minimum when wiping snow and ice off your car, although tempting, poses a considerable hazard to you and other drivers on the road.
Before driving anywhere in winter, always brush snow off your hood, roof, mirrors, trunk, and windows. And don’t forget to watch out for spray from other cars while you are driving.