With the winter weather closing in, many drivers, especially those who have only recently received their driver’s license, are facing difficult conditions on the road. Snow, ice, freezing rain, and low overall visibility can combine to make your holiday season driving a nightmare unless you take the proper precautions.
In this article, we’ll be giving you some advice on how to prepare your car for winter driving. These tips and tricks will help you overcome the traditional obstacles associated with driving and car maintenance in winter and help you stay safe during the colder months.
Batteries and Electrics
Your car battery is under a lot of pressure during the winter as it needs to run extras like you lights, heating and wipers that weren’t needed during the warmer months.
Extraordinary cold temperatures, like those in the more northerly states and Canada, can also have a detrimental effect on car batteries, shortening their life and making it difficult to start your engine. To keep your battery in top condition, here are a few easy steps you can take:
Before you start your engine, turn off any unnecessary electrical draws, such as your lights, heated rear window, and wipers. By cutting down on what your battery has to power and focussing you starting your car, there is a good chance you can get the engine to turn over even if your battery is running on dregs.
Use your starter in short five-second bursts to avoid flooding your engine with too much petrol and not enough oxygen.
If your engine doesn’t start on the first try, leave 30 seconds between attempts.
If your car isn’t being used often, give it a regular overnight trickle charge. Your alternator constantly charges your car’s battery when the engine is running, but if your car is spending a lot of time in the garage, those bitter winter temperatures can drain your battery. A trickle charger is a device that allows you to charge at low amperage, “trickling” energy into your battery while the engine is off to ensure you don’t have to deal with a dead battery when you do want to use your car.
Depending on what state you live in, there is a very real danger that a combination of moisture and subzero temperatures can deal some significant damage to your car. Investing in antifreeze only costs a couple of dollars, which is far better than shelling out thousands to repair a frozen engine.
A 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water for the winter will protect your engine down to -34C/29.2°F.
For most winter conditions in the US, 3mm of tire tread will provide more than enough grip on the road. Letting the air out of your tires won’t enhance that grip and could damage both your tires and wheel rims, so avoid it.
If you are in a traditionally cold state, then it might be worth investing in winter tires or all-season tires. These tires are made of a specific rubber than doesn’t become hard and brittle in the cold and therefore provide more grip in cold and wet road conditions.
If you are considering using snow chains, remember to only use them in places where to snow is thick enough to prevent the road from being damaged. If you ride through the middle of town with your snow chains on, there is a good chance you’ll damage the road surface and end up getting fined.
Good visibility is key to staying safe in the winter, but that can be challenging when your windscreen is covered in snow, ice, and kicked up dirt and road salt.
Clearing your windscreen on a regular basis is always a good idea, and don’t forget to clean your mirrors at the same time. As the winter starts to close in, it’s a good time to replace worn or damaged wiper blades. Remember not to leave your wipers on auto when not in the car as frost can cause them to freeze to the windscreen, damaging the blades or burning out the wiper motor when you turn the ignition on.
Remember to clear the snow from your roof in the morning before you set off. It’s a pain, but it’s far better than it falling onto your windscreen and blocking your view!
The Northwest Driving School and Traffic School provide the Las Vegas community with live driving and traffic classes taught by seasoned instructors. All of our driving instructors have passed background checks, each automobile is DMV safety-approved and every member of the Northwest family is committed to providing excellent drivers ed and behind the wheel instruction.
At Northwest, you can expect to find outstanding classes, both on campus and behind the wheel, that are engaging, fact-filled, entertaining and geared toward success. We make no bones about it, we believe that Northwest provides the best driving lessons in Las Vegas, no matter your age or background. We are proud of the fact that 98% of our students pass their test on the first try. Call us at (702) 403-1592 to start your driving adventure with one of our expert instructors.
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