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Keep These 8 Tips in Mind Before Commuting This Winter

November 28, 2019DMT.NEWS

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How to Prep for Winter Driving

Driving during the winter is a stressful experience for everyone, no matter where they live. Whether it’s pounding rain, heavy snowfall or sheets of black ice, even a simple trip to the store tends to instill a bit of anxiety. But since you can’t just stay inside your home from November to April, it’s important to be prepared for whatever the winter roads might throw your way. 

RELATED: Experts Reveal the Dos and Don’ts of Safe Winter Driving

This means understanding how your vehicle reacts to different weather conditions and making sure its fluids are topped off and its battery functions correctly – among other precautions. To help you feel more comfortable hitting the road once it gets colder, we’ve put together the following tips on winter driving. 

1. Get Your Vehicle Serviced

It’s smart to have your vehicle undergo routine maintenance no matter the season, but during winter it’s extremely vital. In the dead of winter, the last thing you want is to find yourself stranded somewhere with a car that won’t start. 

You’ll first want to take your vehicle in to get its oil changed, even if it hasn’t passed the time or mileage recommendation from a previous visit. This assures your fluids stay topped off, any check engine light codes are inspected and that everything is functioning correctly. This step alone goes a long way to making sure your car runs properly during the winter months.

2. Check Your Battery

If you have any reservations about the life of your car battery, get it checked. When temperatures begin to drop, faulty batteries have a much harder time starting reliably. Simply check its ability to hold a charge, and look for any damage to the casing or corrosion on the connections. It’s better to spend the money and replace a battery now, than to worry about calling out a tow truck in the future. 

3. Drive With Caution

Sure, this one seems like a no-brainer but there’s more to driving in the winter than knowing how to navigate snow and ice (though that’s still vitally important). Driving with caution also means:

Keep extra distance between you and the car in front of you

Don’t drive too fast, and avoid accelerating or braking too strongly

Maintain a steady momentum and don’t stop while driving uphill

Give yourself extra commute time – this assures you won’t be rushing or driving fast

Check the weather conditions before you head so you’re prepared for what you’ll encounter

Drive defensively and stay alert

The more precautions you take while driving, the safer you’ll be. Since it’s inevitable that you’ll have to spend at least some time on the road during winter, heed the recommendations above each time you get in the car.   

4. Consider Winter Tires

Buying a set of winter tires isn’t necessary for everyone but they do make a world of difference on snow and ice. Winter tires allow for better traction not just while accelerating but while braking, too. Even if you consider yourself a master of winter driving, a proper set of winter tires can still spell the difference between sliding off the road and getting to your destination safely.

If you do opt for winter tires, buy them for all four wheels. According to AAA, “having fewer than all four tires installed not only impedes the tires’ ability to do their job, it may lead to handling and traction imbalances.” 

To find the right set of winter tires, reference your vehicle’s owner’s manual, or look up the make, model and year of your car online. There are plenty of tire shops that offer an online database that can match the right tire to your vehicle – take advantage of that. 

5. Keep an Eye on Tire Pressure

An underinflated tire is hard to spot with the naked eye, so double check your vehicle’s tire pressure the moment it starts to get colder. For every 10-degree drop in Fahrenheit, a tire is able to lose up to 1 psi in pressure. This may not seem like much, but a 50-degree swing in some areas can spell a dramatic drop in tire pressure. 

Tires without the proper pressure or inflation run the risk of having their sidewalls damaged and tend to wear the tread shoulders much quicker than usual. You really don’t want to bother with a flat tire in freezing temperatures either. 

6. Buy New Windshield Wipers

Winter doesn’t only mean it’s colder – there’s an increase in precipitation, too. Without a reliable set of windshield wipers, driving in the snow, sleet or rain (or any combination of the three) is made much harder and, not to mention, incredibly less safe. Even if you just bought a new set, it’s still important to make sure your wipers function properly. It’s also recommended to use winter-specific windshield wiper fluid as those tend to not freeze (which could cause potential damage to your vehicle). 

7. Upgrade to Rubber Floor Mats

No matter how cautious you are, you’ll likely track all sorts of moisture, mud, leaves or snow, among others, into your vehicle. By purchasing rubberized floor mats, you’ll have a much easier time cleaning out all that grime. A brand like WeatherTec even custom-fits mats to the exact specifications of your vehicle – it’ll be as if they came with the car. 

8. Pack an Emergency Kit

You never want to hit the road unprepared, especially in winter, which is why it’s smart to always have an emergency kit on hand – no matter the length of your journey. This could include physical maps or GPS devices, spare fuses, an electric tire inflator and car jumper or a folding shovel. Consider including warm items like a blanket, spare pair of winter socks or cat litter for tire traction. You can never be too prepared and most of what you’d need in an emergency kit can fit easily in the cargo area or trunk of a car. 

Winter driving basics vary from region to region as what’s important for driving on the frigid roads of Chicago may not be the same as the rain-soaked streets of Portland. Still, the most important thing to remember is to play it safe. Be aware of the conditions you’ll encounter and understand how your vehicle reacts. The steps above do a lot to ensure you’re safer while on the road, too – and are something everyone should consider as it starts to get colder.

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Emergency Kit Essentials for Your Vehicle How to Make a Long Commute More Bearable How to Change a Tire

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via https://www.DMTBeautySpot.com

Rick Stella, Khareem Sudlow

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