Winter Driving Tips

* The thermometers have confirmed that we are deep into winter now.  The cold weather of winter brings its own set of perils that drivers may face on the roadways.  So here’s a few helpful tips to make sure you’re prepared for any situation that may come up during these cold months.

* Never warm up your car in an enclosed area – This can lead to a deadly, odorless build-up of carbon monoxide 

* Make sure your tires are properly inflated – Colder temperatures lead to gas shrinking, which means your tire pressure will naturally drop slightly, so make sure to check your tire pressure as the temps drop

* Don’t drive on empty – Keeping your gas tank at least half full will help prevent your gas line from freezing up

* Check your battery – Your car battery is just like any other battery in that it operates poorer in cold temperatures. So make sure it still has a good charge to ensure your car will start in these temps.  Most local auto shops such as Autozone or NAPA will check your battery charge for free.

* Keep a warm blanket and flashlight in your car – This is vital in the event that you get stranded.  You cannot rely solely on your car’s heater. Keep a warm blanket (and preferably a jacket) and a flashlight in your car in case your car breaks down and you are stranded for the night.  It’s also good practice to keep your cell phone with you in the car at all times during these months so you can call for safety.

* Get any maintenance work done – Your car has to work hard to operate in these cold temperatures, so you want it running in peak condition. If you have old brakes or need a new air filter, get it done now so your car can continue to run well in these tough conditions.

Here’s also some vital tips if you MUST drive in snow/icy conditions:

* Be careful for ice on overpasses and bridges – Areas where the road is  elevated are the first places that ice will form. So be extra careful for ice when driving on bridges and similarly elevated roadways.

* Accelerate/decelerate and turn slowly – Similarly to driving in the rain, your goal here is to keep traction with the roadway. You’re far more likely to slide if you try and make quick moves with your vehicle.

* Stay off cruise control – Cruise control is your worst enemy when driving in slick conditions. You need to be in control of your accelerating in these conditions to ensure that you keep traction with the roadway.  Additionally, cruise control can actually worsen your sliding once it begins  because it will continue to attempt to accelerate your car to the programmed speed even as your tires are spinning out of control.  Cruise control should only be used in ideal temperatures.

* Don’t stop going up a hill – There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road.  Get some momentum going on a flat roadway and attack the hill in one move.

* Don’t park on hills/Don’t rely on your emergency brake – Parking on hills is a terrible idea.  While the road may be fine when you first park your car, ice can form behind your tires and cause your car to slide down the hill when you’re not even there.  So avoid parking on hills whenever possible.

* Stay Home – Don’t make unnecessary trips. The easiest thing to do in icy and snowy conditions is stay home, get a nice warm cup of hot chocolate and get a good fire going in the fireplace.  Driving in ice and snow is very dangerous and should be avoided whenever possible.