Tennesseans are fortunate enough to experience all four seasons. The most challenging for drivers and their cars is winter weather. Snow and ice bring about a lot of safety issues. In an ideal situation, if there is snow or ice on the roads, you will stay indoors. When that can’t happen, you need to be prepared. Being prepared is the best defense to ensure maximum safety while on the roads.
A Few Myths About Driving in the Snow
There are a few myths about driving in the snow that you should be aware of so you can plan.
- Myth 1: All Wheel Drive (AWD)/4 Wheel Drive is the safest.
An icy road is an icy road. While the AWD does provide you with faster acceleration and engine power connectivity, it’s your tire traction that will play a bigger role in grip.
- Myth 2: Any tire will do in the winter.
As we just mentioned you want to look for something with more grip. Winter tires are designed to move seamlessly through the slush and snow. If you drive regularly through snowfall, investing in winter tires is an excellent idea.
- Myth 3: Because I know how to drive in ice/snow, I can drive like usual.
It’s not advisable to drive normal highway speeds in icy conditions regardless of how much experience you have. Consider also the fact that you share the roads and can’t always control what other cars are doing.
- Myth 4: Better traction happens when you underinflate your tires.
The performance of your tire is directly proportional to the amount of air. Underinflate and you run the risk of fishtailing or sliding on the ice.
- Myth 5: I only need to remove the ice/snow from the windows so I can see.
Before heading out, don’t forget to remove the snow that has piled up on top of the car’s hood, roof, or trunk. The snow can slide down or blown back into the windshield and obstruct your view.
Choose Your Tires Wisely
Regular driving on snowy/icy roads requires good traction. All-season tires have their benefits, but they rarely outperform winter tires regarding grip in cold conditions. If you do opt for winter tires or find you only drive occasionally follow these tips for the best tire performance.
Check Tire Pressure
Freezing temperatures cause the air pressure in your tires to drop. Tires that aren’t filled appropriately will wear unevenly and can cause damage. Unpredictable behavior is a typical characteristic of underinflated tires. Keep a close eye on your tire pressure to be safe during a snow storm.
Tire Pressure Monitor
Hopefully, by now, you are beginning to see the importance of tire pressure and the connection to performance. Since 2008, most cars are equipped with tire pressure monitors. They are devices that communicate with your vehicle to let you know when you need to get them adjusted. If you have a car older than 2008 or decide to use winter tires, you’ll benefit from adding these sensors to your system.
Have a Spare Wheel
If you have a set of snow tires get a new set of wheels to go along with them. Steel is ideal. It’s a little better in harsh, cold conditions. They cost between $50-$75 a piece but will last you at least three seasons if not longer.
Watch the Tread
If you choose to forgo spare tires, you’ll need to check the tread regularly. Do this before the weather turns cold. When the tires have little tread, you will slip and skid a lot more. This is not only dangerous to you but also to the drivers around you. Rotate your tires with every oil change.
Know the Different Kinds of Snow
Knowing the different kinds of snow, you are up against will help you make better, more informed decisions before you hit the road.
Deep, packed snow
Deeply packed snow is usually fresh. Good traction on your tires will perform well in fresh snow. While you don’t want to drive at usual speeds, you can rest assured that there are quite a few layers between your tires and any ice on the roads. If you have snow tires, they will perform the best in this type of condition.
You can get icy roads for a number of reasons. If it’s raining and then the temperatures dip below freezing, you can wake up to an icy street. Ice populates after repeatedly driving over packed snow. When the tires compact it, and the temperatures never rise about freezing it turns to ice. Black ice is hazardous. It happens on patches of road that are exposed to the sun but never rise above 32 degrees.
As the snow begins to melt you are left with a hybrid. Winter tires will work on a road like this, but these are the best conditions for winter tires. Your everyday tire will work great here. You just need to be careful of where the snow and the drive pavement meet. They are still capable of creating issues while driving.
Tips for Driving in the Snow
Here are a few more driving tips for winter weather that you might not think about before heading out.
Check Your Fluids
Inspect the levels of gasoline and windshield washer fluid. When your gas tank is half full, you won’t freeze the fuel pump. If you’re stranded due to the harsh weather, you will have enough gas to keep the car warm. Debris from slippery conditions is inevitable. You’ll need your wiper fluids to help you out. Get wiper fluid that won’t freeze to help with visibility.
Check All Your Lights
Headlights are important so you can see the road and other drivers can see you. Older cars can have dimmed or yellow lights. Invest in a new set of headlights or bulbs for the best results. Check your brake and turn signal lights too. Give other cars enough time to slow down as you break or turn down a road.
Check Your Battery
The power of your battery declines as the thermostat drops. Cars need a little more energy in the winter to get started and to heat up. A healthy battery will ensure optimal performance. Have your battery inspected before it begins to get cold, so you aren’t left stranded. If your battery is out, you can’t turn the heat on to stay warm while you wait for help.
Stay safe on the roads with affordable car insurance from Royce Williams Insurance.