t’s important to learn some basic strategies to stay safe on winter roads. During winter months, make it a habit to check the weather reports before heading out. If snow or ice is predicted, make plans to leave early or arrive later.
If you can move a night trip to daylight hours, do so. Not only is visibility better, but if your vehicle stalls, you are more likely to receive prompt assistance during the daytime. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is another great source for winter driving tips.
Read our tips to prepare your vehicle for winter driving. Use this checklist as a guideline for “winterizing” your car:
Check windshield wiper blades to make sure they work properly. In some areas, snow blades are an effective alternative to conventional wiper blades.
Have your mechanic test the antifreeze/coolant to provide the correct level of protection required in your region.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflation can reduce tire grip because the tread will not meet the road surface as it was designed to do. Overinflation has the same effect.
If you live in areas where snow and ice are certainties of winter driving, the best option is to install winter tires. Winter tires are specially designed with compounds that remain flexible in winter weather, and unique tread designs that grip the road and provide better traction in snow, ice and slush.
Keep your gas tank at least half full. The extra volume helps reduce moisture problems within your fuel system. It also adds helpful weight to your vehicle.
In rear-wheel drive vehicles, extra weight in the trunk or pickup truck bed may be helpful. Weight can be put in the back of pickups to provide additional traction, but it must be secured so that it doesn’t move when you brake hard, corner or get in a collision.
The added weight can also increase stopping distance, so you’ll need to find the right balance of benefit vs. handicap and place any weight directly over the drive axle. Bags of sand can provide weight and, if sprinkled on the ice, sand helps provide traction.