The Winter Driving Checklist Every Driver Needs
Winter weather can be magical. Snowmen, hot chocolate, and frosted forests are some of the great joys of the season. However, this same weather can wreak havoc on roadways.
When the roads are bad, your vehicle is at risk for damage and your safety may be compromised. With that said, stay home during severe weather when you can. If you must venture out, read our winter driving checklist to help you arrive at your destination safely.
Winter Driving Checklist:
Before you go:
- Add cold weather gear to your vehicle safety kit, including:
- Winter boots & socks
- Hat & gloves
- Ice scraper
- Kitty litter or sand
- Clear all snow from your vehicle.
- Make sure you have at least a half tank of gas.
- Check your tire tread to ensure ample traction: a simple penny test will do. Stick a penny in one of your treads with Lincoln’s head first. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tires are unsafe and need replacement.
- Check your tire pressure. According to AAA, for every 10 degrees change in air temperature, a tire’s pressure will change by about 1-2 PSI. Keep in mind that tires that are 10 psi under the manufacturer’s recommended pressure can decrease fuel economy by 3 percent and tire life by 45 percent.
- Test all lights and wipers to make sure they are operating correctly.
On the Roads:
- Buckle your seat belt.
- Always look and steer where you want to go.
- Minimize distractions like music and cell phone noises.
- Do not use cruise control.
- Leave lots of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Drive at decreased speeds.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. Ease off the brake if the wheels start to lock up.
- Keep the windshield and lights clean.
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Be extra careful on bridges and overpasses, which will freeze first.
- Avoid stopping if you can. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it. The amount of inertia needed to start moving from a dead stop often causes trouble on slick roads.
- Don’t stop while you’re going up a hill. When approaching a hill, get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you start climbing. If there is a vehicle in front of you, give them time and space to get a good distance in front of you before you attempt the hill.
What to Do if You Lose Control
Get the grip back:
- Turn the wheel further in the direction you are trying to go to counteract understeer.
- For manual vehicles, simultaneously remove your foot from the brake or accelerator pedal, fully depress the clutch, and straighten steering to help your vehicle regain traction.
- Steer in the direction that the back of your vehicle is sliding (steer into the skid). Beware of correcting the steering too much, as this may cause the vehicle to slide back in the opposite direction.
Let Virginia Tire & Auto Help You Stay Safe This Winter
Whether you need an oil change, new tires, or a brake inspection, the experts at Virginia Tire & Auto are here to help you prepare your vehicle for winter. Schedule an appointment at one of our 15 locations today!