Winter driving can be treacherous and it feels like the polar opposite to summer driving. Although there are more car accidents in the summer, due to more people on the road, winter driving has its own unique set of obstacles that every winter driver needs to take into account. Don’t get left out in the cold: be aware of these very real risks and get yourself prepared for every cold-weather possibility.
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1. Neglecting Car Maintenance
It’s bad enough if your vehicle breaks down in the summertime. You have to wait on the side of the road for the tow vehicle, soaking in the summer sun. It’s a completely different animal if your car breaks down during subzero temperatures. Be proactive and have your car serviced for possible worn hoses and leaks. Have your mechanic check the efficiency of your heater, brakes, defroster, lights, and wipers. Top off all fluids and remember to get the oil changed if it’s time.
2. Not Reviewing Your Car Insurance Policy
Winter accidents are often unavoidable, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to what your cheap car insurance covers in the event that it happens. Review your policy to be sure that your coverage is adequate if an accident does happen, especially if you’re in high-risk cold weather driving state.
3. Leaving Your Battery to Chance
Imagine it, you get out of work for the day, it’s dark and snowy, you turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens. Your car battery’s voltage drops in cold weather, and if it’s more than 3 years old, it may not have enough amperage and voltage to work at all. Have your mechanic check the battery’s viability and replace it if necessary.
4. Not Cleaning the Floor Mats
Most vehicle owners don’t pay much attention to the floor mats. During the fall and winter, debris can easily gather on them and get in the way of your foot on the brake or accelerator pedal. Make it a habit to look down and either pick out, vacuum or shake off the debris like small twigs, pine needles, and dead leaves, etc. that has accumulated.
5. Forgetting about the Windshield Wiper Fluid.
Winter weather brings along with it an array of precipitation that can cause you to use the wiper fluid nearly constantly. It’s easy to go through a lot of fluid, even in one day. Make a habit of topping it off and even keeping an extra bottle in your car, just in case.
6. Overlooking the Tires
Without the vehicle’s tires, you wouldn’t be going anywhere. It might as well be a tiny house! So, it’s important to remember that making sure you have the right amount of tread and air pressure in your tires will help you stay safe on winter roads. The minimum tread for any road conditions is 2/32 of an inch – and if you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, you’ll want to have even deeper tread for safety. Check the vehicle’s owner manual (or inside of the front driver’s door) for information on proper air pressure.
7. Living on the Red Line
If you’re that person who lets the needle hover at E and puts gas in their tank $5 at a time, it’s time to change your ways. At least for the winter. When it’s 20 degrees F outside, you’ll be getting 12% worse gas mileage than during the summer. Keep the gas tank full so you can go farther with less worries of getting stranded.
8. Not Heeding Weather Alerts.
Even the safest driver in the world should take precautions during the winter. Why? Because accidents happen, even to the best of us. If your area is due to be hit with significant weather winter – sleet, ice, heavy snow, gale force winds, consider cozying up by the fireplace and binge-watching Netflix instead of heading out.
9. Not Keeping Essential Items in Your Car
Being prepared for winter weather is your first step toward getting through it safely. Stock your car with these essentials so you can better take control of any situation that arises.
- Snow shovel
- Jumper cables
- Nonperishable snacks and water
- Cell phone charger
- Kitty litter or sand
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Blankets and/or extra coats
- Paper maps of the area
Winter driving can be frightening, but if you’re properly prepared for the risks you will feel safer and more in control. Keeping your car in good working order, and making sure you have adequate coverage in case of unforeseen accidents will give you peace of mind so you can enjoy the winter instead!