Winter driving can sometimes seem like a cruelly designed obstacle course:
Start from a dead stop and gather enough momentum to get over that snowbank gathered in front of your bumper.
Turn onto the street, where a street plow has deposited a 3 ¼-ton wall of black snow blocking your view of all traffic coming from the left.
Slow at the red light on a sheet of ice that hasn’t been salted since 2009.
Ease onto the highway onramp at the proper speed so you a) don’t rear end the guy in front of you going 4 miles an hour and b) aren’t tailgated by the woman behind you in the F-150.
Good luck with that.
Bob Huffman, Ivy Tech Northeast’s automotive technology chair, shares some tips for safe travels during cold, snowy, icy winter months.
- Have your oil changed before winter hits. (Haven’t done this yet? Get thee to the car repair shop, ASAP.)
- Check your oil throughout the season. Normal oil consumption is 1 quart for 1,000 miles. Which means if your car holds 4 quarts and you drive 4,000 miles, you’re essentially out of oil. Don’t wait until the oil pan runs dry.
- Most car repair businesses will do a free 27-point inspection. Request this. Fix what needs fixing.
- Check tire pressure. As temperatures dip, so does tire pressure.
- Assure wiper blades are in good condition.
- Fill washer fluid reservoir.
- Keep blankets in the car.
- Going to travel in severe weather or heading on a road trip? Be sure to have candles, roadside flares, water, and nonperishable food. As Huffman points out: You never think you’ll slide off the road into a ditch or ravine until it happens. And if there are whiteout conditions, you may be there for a while.
- Bring extra winter clothing. If your tire goes flat and you’re in a business suit, you’ll be glad to have snow boots and overalls to put over your good clothing.
- Got a flat? Don’t get out and change it yourself. It’s not worth risking your life—pull over and call a professional.
- Got a flat on a highway? Wait to pull over until you reach an onramp. Go ahead and drive on the tire rim: Better to pay the $300 to replace it and be safe.
- Most newer cars have safety features that make driving in hazardous weather easier, Huffman says. Antilock brakes help control the car while breaking; electronic stability helps correct the car when driving on a slick curve; traction control helps during a fishtail by allowing a car to accelerate from a dead stop on ice and snow. Assure your car has these features.
- Allow plenty of time to get to your destination.
- Use common sense. Is the road slick? Don’t tailgate.
- Are you being tailgated? Pull off and let the speedster pass you.