This article has been refreshed with new tips and tricks to help you navigate winter terrain. It was originally published on December 12, 2019.
Driving in the snow and ice can be tricky. Here are our top winter driving tips you’ve probably already heard before–but always bear repeating:
All-season tires are really convenient but they aren’t optimized for winter weather (or summer weather for that matter). Swapping them out for real, sturdy winter tires is a pain in the butt but they’ll drastically improve your driving experience. Winter-tire treads won’t stiffen when temperatures drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit giving them better grip both in the snow and on the dry, cold pavement.
If you’re buying a new car this winter, find the trim level that comes with heated seats. In our experience, they start working and radiating heat much quicker than the engine’s heater fan. A heated wheel is nice, too, but not necessary. If you’re wearing gloves, you don’t feel the benefit.
Those custom mats that fit perfectly over the carpeting? They’re great. But they’ll get trashed with snow, ice, dirt, and all the other stuff you’ll track in during the winter season. Winter driving tip #3: most local auto parts stores have a good selection of winter mats for under $25. They might not fit perfectly but they’ll go a long way in keeping the underlying carpet clean.
This is probably our most important winter driving tip. When driving in the snow, the idea is to avoid wheelspin. If the tires lose their grip and start spinning on a hill, you lose momentum and can’t make it up and over. So take it slow and steady, and keep a lot of space between you and the car ahead of you. If you skid into someone, it’s your fault. No matter what the reason.
AWD can help you navigate through the snow but it won’t do anything on the ice. And that’s where most people run into trouble. So, if you ever feel uncomfortable driving in the snow and ice, our best advice is: just stay home. It’s not worth the risk of an accident.
And as we mentioned earlier, tires really matter. If you know you’ll have to be out in bad weather this season, prepare ahead of time. Invest in a good base, take it slow and steady on the road, and try not to panic if things go wrong.
A “winter survival kit” contains the cold weather supplies and emergency equipment you’ll need if you find yourself stranded in the middle of a storm or a cold snap. Any number of things that can go wrong during a winter storm—crashes, malfunctions, stuck tires— and cold temperatures make roadside emergencies even more dangerous. Of course, we hope you never have to use it, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared, just in case. Taking some time to get the right gear together will make things easier if things do go sideways. Learn more about what to include here.
At V&F, we strive to provide our customers with a well-rounded knowledge of all things automotive from winter driving tips to oil change advice. Since 1988, our family-owned and operated service center has been providing top-quality auto repair services to Agawam, Feeding Hills, Southwick, West Springfield and the surrounding Massachusetts communities. If your car needs maintenance or repair before this winter season, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online. Stay safe, folks!