Winter weather presents drivers with a unique set of challenges, and driving on slippery, icy or frozen roads can be particularly hazardous.
Preparing your car for winter driving is an essential step to ensure safety on the road. Check your tires, brakes, lights, wiper blades and more to make sure they’re in optimal condition before hitting the road.
Check Your Tires
Maintaining proper tire pressure and tread depth are critical for winter driving safety. Inflating tires properly reduces the chance of blowouts, while improving braking performance and handling.
A properly inflated tire will reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as shield your vehicle from skidding or hydroplaning due to water accumulation on the road.
Checking your tire tread depth is a cinch with a graduated probe gauge. Simply insert it into a groove on the tire and press its shoulders down against the tread surface.
If the depth in the center grooves is lower than in the outer grooves, this indicates that your tire has been running underinflated.
Checking tire tread wear is a reliable way to tell. Measure each tire tread at several different places and if they differ, this could indicate an issue such as improper inflation or wheel alignment that will negatively affect your car’s safety and handling on icy roads.
Check Your Brakes
Brakes are an essential safety component on any vehicle. They help keep you from skidding or swerving on wet or icy roads, which could lead to an accident.
If your brakes are worn, it can be difficult for you to stop your car safely. That is why it is essential to inspect them regularly and bring in your car when they require replacement.
When inspecting your brake pads visually, look to see how much material remains on them. If it’s less than a quarter inch, then it’s time for them to be changed.
It’s also wise to inspect your rotors and calipers for signs of rust. If there’s excessive corrosion present, you may hear a grinding noise when braking.
Check Your Lights
Headlights and taillights are essential safety devices that enable drivers to see at night. They also serve to illuminate other vehicles on the road, including pedestrians.
Make sure your headlights and taillights are clean, free from snow and ice. Keep some microfiber towels in your car to brush them off before taking a drive.
Be sure to inspect your side lights, which are located next to your headlights and provide a lower beam than those in front. They should be clean and bright so other drivers can see them too.
Driving on snow- or ice-covered roads can be hazardous and even fatal. Always slow down and leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle ahead of you.
Car warning lights are your vehicle’s way of alerting you when something is amiss. Understanding what they signify can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is essential for your car’s grip, stability and control on the road. Underinflated tires will lose grip on pavement, leading to slips or crashes.
Maintaining proper tire pressure not only makes your car perform better on wet and dry roads, but it also reduces fuel consumption and enhances its safety. So be sure to check your tire pressure frequently – especially during wintertime.
Cold weather reduces tire air pressure by one PSI for every 10 degrees drop in temperature outside.
Testing your tire pressure is easy with a small, handheld gauge that you can find at an auto parts or hardware store for around $25. Simply press the tip of the gauge onto the valve stem and read its reading.