Tips for Driving on the Snow and Ice

The winter is fast approaching and for most of us this means the snow is about to start falling. All the snow and ice can cause many problems for vehicles and slippery conditions on the roads. It’s a good idea before the cold weather hits to make sure your car is prepared for the winter; check the engine, battery, tires, and all necessary fluids.

Make sure your tires are inflated to the proper pressure and the tread on them is not worn down. Once the cold weather does hit and the snow starts piling up keep these tips in mind to help avoid delays and worries while out on the roads.

Before Heading Out:

 Make sure to check your wipers and windshield wiper fluid before heading out on the roads. If there is precipitation your wipers will need to be working well to keep that windshield clear. It’s also a good idea to clean your headlights and taillights. This will improve visibility for you and help other cars see you on the road. Inspect your tire tread to avoid sliding and skidding on the ice.

 Your tire tread is worn down too much if when you put a penny in the tread upside down you can see Abe’s head. If this is the case get new tires. Keep your fuel tank full to avoid running out of gas and being stranded on the side of the road. Plan your route before you leave to avoid untreated roads and heavy traffic. Let someone know your route and what time you plan to arrive at your destination.

If your car has been sitting outside in the cold and snow it’s possible that your locks may freeze or even the door will freeze shut. If the locks freeze on your vehicle, place a warm towel over the lock to thaw it.

To prevent the doors from freezing apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly around the rubber mold on the inside of the doors. If the doors do freeze shut, tap around the edge of the door to break up the ice and then pull the door handle and the bottom edge of the door to open.

If the worst happens and you do end up on the side of the road or stranded somewhere you will feel a lot safer and less worried if you have a well-stocked emergency car kit in your trunk. For the winter you will want to make sure your kit includes boots, a blanket, ice scraper and snow shovel as well as the necessities for all year round.

These other necessities include a fully charged cell phone (even without service any phone can dial 911), a flashlight with extra batteries and fuses, drinking water and non-perishable snacks, a small tool kit with jumper cables, flares, fire extinguisher, coolant and a tire pressure gauge.

While Driving:

Before you pull off onto the road make sure all of the snow is cleared off of your vehicle so it doesn’t fly in other driver’s windshields or yours. Always allow for extra travel time, snow and ice make everyone more cautious and drivers tend to go slower, even on the highways. Watch for ice on bridges and intersections.

 Bridges tend to ice before the main road does, so even if the rest of the road seems fine the bridge may not be. While driving makes sure to look further ahead to allow for extra reaction time, the ice will make it very difficult to stop abruptly. Apply constant pressure to the brake pedal if driving with anti-lock brakes.

 If you do wind up stuck on the side of the road, straighten the wheel of your car and accelerate slowly to get back on track; if this doesn’t work it may be necessary to put sand under the tires so your car will have some traction.

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