Cold Weather Driving Tips

Check your battery.
When the temperature drops, so does battery power. For gasoline-powered engines, be aware that it takes more battery power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm. For electric and hybrid vehicles, the driving range is reduced and the battery systems work better after they warm up. Make sure your battery is up to the challenges of winter by:
  • Having your mechanic check your battery for sufficient voltage.
  • Having the charging system and belts inspected.
  • Replacing the battery or making system repairs, including simple things like tightening the battery cable connections.
  • Making sure to keep fresh gasoline in an electric vehicle, to support the gasoline system.

Check your windshield wipers and defrosters.
Safe winter driving depends on achieving and maintaining the best visibility possible. Make sure your windshield wipers work and replace worn blades.
Consider installing heavy-duty winter wipers if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice.
Check to see that your window defrosters (front and rear) work properly.

Inspect your tires.
If you plan to use snow tires, have them installed before the snow storms hit. Check out for tire ratings before buying new ones. For existing tires, check to ensure they are properly inflated (as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer), the tread is sufficient with no uneven wear, and that the rubber is in good overall condition. Note that tire rubber starts to degrade after several years, and older tires need to be replaced even if they have not seen much wear. Regardless of season, you should inspect your tires at least once a month and always before setting out on a long road trip. It only takes about five minutes. If you find yourself driving under less-than-optimal road conditions this winter, you'll be glad you took the time.

Stock your vehicle.
Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving tasks, such as cleaning off your windshield, as well as any supplies you might need in an emergency. Keep the following on hand:
  • Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper.
  • Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow.
  • Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and markers.
  • Blankets for protection from the cold.
  • And a cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas.)

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