Tis the season for winter driving, which means dangerous road conditions, hazards and more. Even experienced Wisconsinites need a reminder of how to stay safe on the road in the cold and snow every now and then.
To help you stay safe this winter, Matthews Tire Menasha Manager Sean Brucks shares his top winter driving tips.
Sean’s Winter Driving Safety Tips
Winterizing your car
Ensure your vehicle is in good condition.
“The cold, fluctuating temperatures here in Wisconsin can take a big toll on your battery, tires and other parts of your car,” Sean explains. If any part of your car isn’t in good condition, the cold weather will only cause further problems.
Check your tire pressure, brake pads, oil fluid and windshield wipers often to ensure everything will work properly while you’re on the road.
Add cold-weather wiper fluid.
“You don’t want to get stuck with a streaky windshield,” Sean said. “Keep anti-freeze washer fluid topped up throughout the winter so you can clean your windshield when needed.”
Preparing to drive
Warm up your car before driving.
Letting your car run and warm up for a few minutes before driving does more than keep you warm. Sean recommends that Wisconsin drivers should let their cars run for at least five to 10 minutes before they leave during the winter.
“Cold weather can impact the fluids in your car, from engine oil to power steering fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid,” Sean explained. “Sometimes the cold makes the oil so thick, it doesn’t get to the upper valve of the drive train. Warming up your car before driving can help solve this problem.”
Just remember, if you let your car run, don’t do it in an enclosed space. Even a garage that’s open can trap fumes. Run your car outside in a clear, ventilated area.
Completely clear off and de-ice your car.
It may be time-consuming, but it’s important to completely remove the snow and ice from your car before driving. Even if a chunk of ice or snow doesn’t impact your visibility, it could fall off your car while on the road and damage other cars.
“One way to make this easier is to turn your headlights on when you let your car heat up,” Sean said. “The heat will help the snow and ice melt and it will be easier to clear off.”
Check traffic and weather conditions before you head out.
“Always be prepared,” Sean advises. Before you even get on the road, you should have a good idea of what the conditions are like and if there is anything you should be prepared for.
“I personally have a 35-minute commute through a lot of back-country roads that don’t get plowed or salted. I always check road conditions, accident updates and hazards I should be aware of before getting on the road.”
Staying safe on the road
Give yourself extra time to get to your destination.
You’ll likely encounter accidents and bad road conditions throughout the winter, so give yourself more time than normal when you head out. This way, you won’t feel the need to speed or drive unsafely in slippery, hazardous conditions.
Be aware of your environment
“I always know what’s going on around me on the road, especially in winter,” Sean says. He advises Wisconsin drivers to pay extra attention to their car, the road conditions and other drivers around them while driving in the cold, snow and ice.
Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car.
You might not think of sunglasses as a necessary winter driving accessory, but snow can be quite reflective and bright. Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car throughout the winter to ensure you’ll have optimal visibility.
Increase the space between cars in front of you.
Even with high-quality brakes, you may end up skidding and sliding on the road if you have to brake hard. “Give yourself more room between your car and the car in front of you so you have ample time to brake, even if you hit a patch of ice.”
Frequently Asked Winter Driving Questions
Do I need winter tires?
Winter tires provide optimal performance and safety in the cold, snow and ice. For the best braking power, winter tires are recommended.
When does it become too dangerous to drive in winter?
It depends on the driver and what they are comfortable with. Always pay attention to road conditions and heed winter advisory warnings. At the end of the day, if you aren’t comfortable being on the road, you should just stay home until it’s safe.
Is it bad to let my car run and heat up before driving?
No. Warming up your car before driving in the winter is a great way to have a more comfortable driving experience and ensure everything in your vehicle is working properly and at the right temperature.
Give the Gift of Safety on the Road this Winter!
It’s not too late to winterize your car and prepare to stay safe on the road all season long! Stop into your local Matthews Tire to ensure your vehicle is ready for winter weather driving.
Plus, give the gift of stress-free car repairs and maintenance services with a Matthews Tire gift card, perfect for every driver in the family!