It’s almost that time of year…the time of constant snow, bone-chilling cold and icy roads. And while winter driving can be dangerous, there are plenty of things that you can do to prepare yourself for it. Here is our list of 6 important tips to keep you safe on the road this winter.
- Stock your car up for the season
We can only hope that this is simply a precaution, but it’s very important to be prepared for anything that happens while driving in the winter. This includes extra traffic, excess snow or an accident on the road. Several things that are important to keep in your car are:
- An ice scraper to remove frost from your windshield
- A snow shovel in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow
- Jumper cables in case your battery dies
- An abrasive material such as kitty litter; you’ll thank yourself if you get stuck, and the extra weight in the trunk will help with your vehicle’s traction
- Flares or markers to warn traffic in the case of an accident; especially important when the snow is blinding or at night
- Blankets or extra coats
- A cell phone charger in case of emergencies
And do your best to keep your gas tank at-or-above half full to prevent your gas line from freezing.
- Have your car serviced before the bad weather hits
There’s no worse time to break down than the winter. It comes with the risk of being stranded in the cold, slipping on the roads or having serious damage happen to your vehicle. The cold weather can cause harm to both you and your vehicle if you are caught in these conditions, and it’s important to prepare yourself for the season.
Have your vehicle thoroughly checked for leaks, worn tires or a bad battery, as well as any other issues that your car might have. This also includes the smaller things like wiper blades and headlights; these things can cause you a great deal of trouble and are very easy to replace. Contact us to service your car for the winter season!
- Check your tires and tire pressure once the temperature changes
This is an easy thing to forget, but it really makes a huge difference in the winter. When the temperature drops, your tire pressure drops significantly; by about one pound per ten degrees of temperature drop. When is the last time that you checked your tire pressure? Was it a month ago, or even longer? It’s dropped by close to 20 degrees on the average day since the start of October, and it’s going to keep dropping up here in Northeast Ohio…
Decreased tire pressure can lead to poor handling in the winter, especially when the roads are icy. Make sure that you check you tire pressure now and monitor it throughout the winter, because you never know when the snow is going to come.
Equally concerning is cars with worn tires, which can create very poor traction in the winter. This can lead to bad handling in snowy conditions, as well as the risk of your vehicle getting stuck in the snow easily. Inspect your tires about once a month, making sure that the tread is at least 1/16 of an inch and that the wear on the tires is not uneven or poor.
- Let your car warm up before you hit the road
There are plenty of benefits to allowing your car to warm up for a few minutes before driving when the weather is especially cold or snowy. Cars get worse fuel economy when it’s especially cold out; they are at least 12 percent less fuel efficient. It takes longer for the engine to reach its optimal driving temperature in the frosty Cleveland winters. It is also important to get the oil and other fluids pumping in your car in the winter mornings, as they can settle and not flow efficiently through your vehicle until it has warmed up for several minutes.
Another big hazard is visibility. When it snows hard, your car will typically be covered in inches and inches of snow or, even worst, a thick layer of ice on the windows. In some cases this is too thick to simply scrape off (or you just don’t want to do it), and that is a good reason to let your car warm up for several minutes before attempting to drive.
Also, if you want to avoid the cold while protecting your engine from harm, a remote start is a great option for you. Let your car warm up while you are warm inside your home, and then move right into a warm car (maybe with some heated seats as well?) Check out our inventory of remote starts and heated seats to make your winter a little more bearable!
- Put your phone away
This tip applies for every time of the year, but it rings especially true in the winter. Texting and driving is one of the most dangerous things that you can do, and that risk increases tenfold in the winter. The text message can wait until you arrive to your destination, or your passenger can send it for you. The phone call isn’t that important, or you can use a hands-free method like a car phone or a Bluetooth device. Even if you use your phone’s GPS for directions, have it safely mounted out of your direct line of vision.
There are plenty of ways to avoid using your phone while driving, and it’s just not worth it to put yourself and so many others at risk. Especially when the roads are slippery and vision is diminished.
- Don’t “peek drive”
Unfortunately, most all of us have done this one. You’re running late in the morning, and your car is covered in ice. So rather than sitting there and waiting for the windshield to safely defrost, you scrape a tiny hole that you can peek through to drive. This is one of the more unsafe things that you can do in the winter, as you have virtually no visibility and zero peripheral vision. Allow yourself adequate time in the morning to scrape off your car and allow it to defrost.
For you freeze babies out there, this is another excellent reason to upgrade to a remote start…
Let’s be safe this winter, Northeast Ohio. Prepare yourself for the worst, and drive to the best of your ability and caution!