Whether it is snow, ice, or sleet, the winter weather can get extremely dangerous, especially for drivers. In the year 2019, there were 440 fatal crashes and an estimated number of 33,000 injury crashes that occurred because of the wintery road conditions. To avoid the same thing happening to your or your loved ones, you need to appropriately prepare yourself and your vehicle.
Driving in the winter conditions
The very basics
This goes without saying that it is hard to control a fast car in wintery conditions because of a slick or surface covered in snow. Police have reported over 182,000 car crashes due to the winter weather in a single year. When in traffic, make sure you maintain a decent distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you so that you always find enough time to stop before your car skids and hits the car in the front.
Even though you might think it’s a good idea to travel near a snowplow or a truck, don’t forget that these vehicles travel slowly, make wide sharp turns, stop often, exit the road frequently, and overlap lanes. If you come across a snowplow, make sure you maintain your distance or overtake it using a safe measure.
Always check your tires
The tire inflation pressure decreases as the temperature on the outside falls. Meaning, you should always check the tire pressures and make sure each is filled up to the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure. And do not inflate the tires according to the inflation pressure mentioned on its body because that’s the maximum air pressure the tire can hold and not the optimum value, which will offer you the best driving results, especially in winter conditions.
Some other tire tips:
- Make sure to carefully inspect your tires at least once every month, especially before going on a long road trip.
- The best time to check your tires is when they are cold and have not been driving continuously for more than three hours.
- Check the age of each tire. Many tire and vehicle manufacturers recommend that each tire that has been used for over six years should be replaced with new ones.
Check your car batteries
You can always count on winter to bring down your car battery. In the cold, gasoline and diesel engines take a bigger charge from the battery to start up, and electric and hybrid vehicles’ total driving range is reduced. When the winter comes, make sure you let your mechanic check your battery, charging system, and any other body part that might face difficulty in the cold weather.
People get caught up in car accidents in normal conditions, so you can guess what will happen when the winter comes. Due to the significantly reduced control, a driver has on his car leads to a higher car crash rate. Meaning it would be a good idea to get yourself a dashcam before the winter comes so you can record any event that takes place on the road and have solid proof to declare your innocence when the need arises. Dashcams also can warn you about the weather conditions and help you chart out a safer route.
Floor mats of your car
Improper installation of floor mats in your vehicle could interfere with your interaction with the accelerator, brake, or clutch pedal. This reason is why you should consider switching out your standard floor mats for a thicker material or rubber floor mats for your car. Making sure your driving foot is not disturbed by anything during your drive is quite critical and might end up protecting you from a car crash.
Checking the headlights
Make sure your headlights turn signals, brake lights, emergency flashers, and interior bulbs are all working fine before you leave for a drive. It becomes hard to see in winter, so all these lights can indicate your presence to the other drivers.
Check your windshield wipers
In the winter, you can quickly use up all your windshield wiper fluid on a single stormy night. So, before you leave again, make sure your wiper fluid is of top quality and can apply a de-ice effect on your car’s windshield. Also, make sure all your windshield wipers are working fine as well as all the defrosters. If you live in an area that gets tonnes of snow, you should consider switching to heavy-duty wipers.
Check your car cooling system
This might sound odd because it’s wintertime, but always check your car’s cooling system before leaving your house. Make your vehicle has enough coolant in the tank as per the amount specified by the vehicle manufacturer. You can check it in the owner’s manual. Check the cooling system for any kinds of leaks, test it beforehand, and to be on the safe side, drain your old one and replace it with new coolant fluid.
Carry the essential winter equipment
When the winter comes, you can never be sure what you might need at what time, so make sure you carry all the essential winter equipment in your car. The winter equipment supply includes:
- a snow broom, shovel, and ice scraper;
- an abrasive material, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the ice;
- flashlight, jumper cables, and warning devices like flares;
- blankets to protect from the cold when required; and
- Your mobile phone and charger, food, water, and first aid kit.
Fill up your car with what it needs
Always keep your gas tank filled up whenever you get the opportunity. There’s literally no harm in it! And for the electric and hybrids, make sure there is as little strain as possible on the battery and keep it plugged in whenever you get the chance. Keep in mind, lithium-ion batteries provide a lower charge in winters.