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Winter driving tips

Let's start with some of the timeless safe winter driving tips that apply to every trip you take in the winter months. These winter driving tips really apply all year round but are especially important in icy or snowy weather conditions that will affect any winter driving you do regardless of the distance you travel.

Your winter driving mindset

The key components of your winter driving mindset needs to be:

  • Stay alert
  • Be aware
  • Slow down and
  • Keep control of your vehicle.

All these combined elements helps you to anticipate possible road or other dangerous situations in front and around you. Those precious seconds of hyper-alertness can make all the difference to you and your family.

Basic winter driving tips

These winter driving tips may seem obvious to do but you'll see drivers not doing one or more things on the roads.

  1. Always buckle up your seat belt
  2. Always clear off snow and ice from all over your vehicle (including the top of your vehicle or whatever you can reach. Snow flies off of the car roof that could be distracting or dangerous to the vehicle behind you) so you have as much viewing sight around you as possible
  3. Keep your headlights on during the day when driving
  4. Check your wheel flaps for snow and ice buildup so you have maximum wheel-turning power
  5. Remember to check the windshield washer level frequently.

Keeping your vehicle in good shape and performing regular car care maintenance for winter driving is very important. Having an emergency car kit is also really important, as you'll never know when you might need a crucial item from your kit.

My top 10+ winter driving safety tips

Here are my top 10 winter driving tips. Remember it's all about safety in winter.

  1. Make sure all your windows and side mirrors, license plate, all car lights (front, rear, side, on top) are clear of snow
  2. Start out slow to get comfortable with the current winter road conditions
  3. Always drive to suit the conditions you are driving in
  4. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front as it takes longer to stop your vehicle in winter weather
  5. Pay attention to road signs that show slippery conditions
  6. Keep your speed lower than posted for winter weather driving
  7. Brake slowly at stoplights and approaching intersections or roundabouts
  8. Move over into the center lane to avoid cars or emergency vehicles parked on the road shoulder
  9. Be really cautious and give a wide berth when passing snow plows and other snow management vehicles spreading sand or salt on the roads
  10. Drive during the day rather than at night if you are going on a long driving trip in winter.

The "don'ts" of winter driving

There are some actions you just don't do regarding winter driving because they can be dangerous or even life-threatening.

Here's what NOT to do:

  1. Don't use cruise control in winter! This just increases your chances of losing control of your vehicle and causing an accident
  2. Don't mix and match winter tires with other tire types as it will unbalance your vehicle's alignment and put more wear and tear on some of the tires
  3. Never ever leave a vehicle to warm up in a garage or other enclosed area - the carbon monoxide produced is deadly!
  4. Don't accelerate fast from a stopped position in snowy or icy conditions - all you'll do is spin the tires needlessly and still be unable to move forward properly and safely
  5. Don't use the parking brake or use it sparingly if you have to park on slippery, snowy or icy road surfaces.

Do-it-yourself quick car maintenance checks

As a car owner already, you do the necessary things in order to drive your vehicle, however, in winter they become a little more important to maintain and do for winter driving safety.

Being properly prepared in having your vehicle in tip top shape at all times makes the most sense to get through the winter safely. So, throughout the winter, you'll need to check on some things regularly such as:

  1. Are the windshield wipers doing their job properly? There are some after-market wipers designed for winter conditions you can buy. Wipers generally don't last longer than a year so replacing them once a year makes sense.
  2. Keep the wiper fluid tank full.
  3. How is the tread on your tires holding up over winter? Tread depth is 11 mm to 13mm when new and 6mm to 8 mm when it's time to start looking for new winter tires before next winter. Tread wear is measured in 2mm bands on the tire.
  4. Monitor your tire pressure frequently. Check your car manual for the correct tire pressure, as it will be lower in winter than in summer.
  5. Keep the gas/petrol tank over the halfway mark at all times if you can. What this means is that there's less risk of the gas line freezing up and your car not starting.
  6. Is the anti-freeze in your vehicle suitable for the winter weather? Anti-freeze is crucial to make your vehicle run properly and provide heat to the car's interior. If the heat fails, sometimes it's as simple as the level of the anti-freeze being too low.
  7. Check with your mechanic about other things in your vehicle that may need to be checked before or during the winter season.

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