How to Drive in the Snow and Ice

Driving on snow requires a lot of skill and your undivided attention and concentration. Many people are injured and killed each year because of improper driving on snow, icy roads, or in snowstorms and blizzards. You don’t have to leave yourself stranded at the curb to wait for the chill to warm up and the roads to thaw. Here are some tips and techniques you should keep in mind whenever you need to drive in the snow.

One of the main causes of road accidents during the winter season is that the car is not prepared to handle the task of driving on snow. The engine may seize up because of cold starts. Under extremely low winter temperatures, fuel, water, and oil may get so cold that they freeze or fail to circulate properly through your car. You need to do a few maintenance tasks to your car before taking it out in the cold weather:

  • Warm up the engine. Take the time to warm up your car engine for a few minutes before taking it out on the road. While this may seem like a waste of gasoline, the engine works harder – and consumes more gasoline – when you run it cold. About five minutes on neutral gear without revving up the accelerator is enough to warm your engine for the cold roads ahead.
  • Add synthetic lubricants and fuel additives. If you live in places with below-freezing temperatures, you need to make sure that the oil and fuel don’t freeze, or fall below the optimum recommended temperature. car lubricants and fuel additives help maintain the temperature of the oil, and also prevent the fluids from losing viscosity during particularly low temperatures and cold weather.
  • Make sure your safety features work. Pay attention to your fog lamps, defoggers, and turn signals. Make sure that your windshield is thawed and free from ice crystals, and that the windshield wipers are pliable. Always have a first-aid kit and early warning devices handy whenever you drive during harsh winter conditions.

Never Drive on Ice

Ice and thick slush on the road can kill you. Thin ice cannot support the weight of your vehicle, and it doesn’t provide the necessary traction and grip for your tires like asphalt or concrete. No matter how fast or how slow you drive on an icy road (or worse, a frozen lake or river), you’re almost always bound to slip and skid along the ice surface. As much as possible, avoid icy roads or freeways; you should only drive on them when the road has been deiced, or if the ice has thawed enough for the road to give your tires adequate traction and grip on the road surface.

Remember: Don't forget to keep a car trailer winch in your vehicle. It will be the best friend when you stuck at the road.

Snow Tires

Snow tires, also called winter tires, are very important, especially in areas with high amounts of snowfall. In places with mild winter conditions, all-purpose, all-season tires do just as well without the cost. Snow tires have a deeper tread, and are built with a rubber compound that is much thicker and more resistant to cold winter temperatures. A snow tire is built with grip and control in mind, not necessarily longevity.

One misconception about snow tires is that you only need two of them. When driving on snow, you need all four of your wheels fitted with snow tires. You may find that you need to change snow tires every year. Make sure to buy a new set of snow tires every winter season, just to be on the safe side.

Tire chains

Another way to safely drive on thick layers of snow is to use tire chains. Each wheel is fitted with a specific size and gauge of chains to provide conventional tires with extra grip, especially when you really need to drive through snow or hard ice. Tire chains are usually fitted on vehicles without four-wheel drive, or for vehicles that need extra traction.

When on tire chains, you shouldn’t go in excess of 25 miles per hour. Make sure that the tire chains are attached very securely on the tire, and that the tire chains are always in good condition. Replace your tire chains when you spot a broken or snapped link.

Take It Slow

When driving on snow or harsh winter conditions, always remember to take it slow. Forty miles per hour is fast enough for you to drive in a mild snowfall, but you may have to reduce your speed to 30 or even 20 miles per hour. Take it easy on curves, and never attempt to overtake any vehicle when the road is covered with snow.

Driving on snow does not have to be as complicated and difficult as you think. With these tips to help, harsh winter drives do not have to be a living nightmare.

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