It’s not even December yet, but some of us have already seen snowfall. (Hello, nor'easter.) We hope your travels were safe, but anyone who’s had to drive through the powdery fluff knows how dangerous it can be. Some of the hazards? Slippery roads, limited visibility and freezing cold.
If you know you’ll have to drive this winter, make sure you and your car are prepared in advance. (Even if your car has four- or all-wheel drive, make sure you heed the following advice.)
Step 1: Check your tires
Replace worn tires before snow claims the roads this winter, according to Consumer Reports. Worn tires can make it hard to get going and stop. Even better, invest in winter tires, which offer tread patterns and rubber compounds to grip snow and ice.
As a good rule of thumb, if you can see your breath, switch your all-season or high-performance tires to winter tires, says Bridgestone and the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Step 2: Clear snow and ice off your car
Do this before getting in your car. Ice on your windows and accumulated snow that falls from your roof will limit your visibility. Clean headlamps and taillights, and kick off the snow from your shoes before getting in your car — snow that finds its way into your car can contribute to window fogging.
Step 3: Slow down
Reduce wheel spin by accelerating slowly. And remember to drive as smoothly as you can. This means avoiding sudden or rapid movements. Consumer Reports recommends that you pretend you’re driving with a cup of coffee on the dashboard to reduce wheel spin. In addition, don’t pass snowplows and sanding trucks, according to Weather.com. They have limited visibility, and the road will be in better shape behind them than in front. Avoid cruise control so you can maintain control of acceleration and deceleration at all times, according to Bridgestone.
Step 4: Use your brain when braking
Brake sooner than you normally would to give yourself more room between yourself and the car in front of you. And don’t lock your wheels when braking, which can make your car slide or skid.
Step 5: Be prepared for a slide
If the rear end of your car slides during a turn, gently let off on the accelerator and turn your steering wheel in the direction of the slide, says Consumer Reports.
For more winter-driving advice, check out this infographic from Bridgestone.