How to Learn to Drive In the Winter on Snow and Ice
How to Drive a Car in Winter Weather
Heading to work in ice and snow is a bad way to start your day. Driving in winter weather is stressful! However, you can safely drive in these conditions. To drive in winter weather, make sure your vehicle has been serviced, keep the fluids full, drive slowly, and use caution when stopping and turning.
Driving in Wintry Conditions
Clean off your car before driving.When you walk outside to find a car covered in ice and snow, you should remove everything from the car before driving. This helps you see when you drive. Don’t just clean off a hole that you can see out of. This can significantly decrease your visibility.
- Clean off all windows and mirrors before leaving your home.
- You should also clean the snow off lights so other drivers can see your headlights, blinkers, and brake lights.
- Brush off your hood, trunk, doors, and roof. Snow can slide onto your windows and block your view, which won't be good when you're driving! It can also sling off and hit another car. Many states require by law that you remove all snow before getting on the road.
Drive slowly.You may be stressed and running behind, but your safety comes first! No matter how long you have been driving, you should drive slowly in winter weather. Even if you have winterized your car, you may still lose control of your car. By driving slowly and paying attention, you not only keep control of your car, but can be aware of those around you who many not be as careful as you.
- Press the gas and brake pedals gently. Speed up and slow down slowly and take it easy as you turn. Make sure to start braking early to avoid sudden stops.
Leave plenty of space for stopping.Stopping on wintry roads is very different than dry roads. You should not try to stop the same way you do on normal roads. That may cause an accident! Leave at least eight to ten seconds to stop. Gently press the brake with the ball of your foot and avoid slamming on brakes.
- If possible, take your foot off the gas pedal to slow down at red lights and try to roll to it until it turns green so you don’t have to stop.
Keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you.You should double the distance you normally would between you and the vehicle in front of you. Keep scanning the vehicles in front of you and look out for brake lights. If you've kept your distance, you should be able to bring your vehicle to a stop with distance to spare instead of having to slam on your brakes and sliding into the vehicles in front of you.
Avoid speeding up hills.When you approach a hill, don’t press the gas pedal hard to try to get up the hill. This can cause you to spin. Instead, try to use inertia to get up the hill. Don’t stop on the hill because it can be difficult to get going again. If you have to press the gas pedal, do it gently and slowly.
Learn to deal with skidding.Skidding can be extremely scary! To correct for any skid, release the gas slightly and turn your wheels in the direction you want to go, very gently. Be careful not to over correct and do not press the gas until you are headed in the direction you want to go again.
- If the car does not seem to turn, or turns too wide, easing off of the gas lightly might do. If that doesn't work, tap the brakes lightly and steer just slightly tighter into the corner. Simply panicking and steering sharply into the corner will only reduce control.
- If the car is hydroplaning, gently ease off of the gas without lifting off of it completely. If necessary, ease off completely.
Avoid using cruise control.Cruise control can be a relaxing way to drive. However, during winter weather, you shouldn’t use the cruise control on your car. This takes the acceleration and deceleration out of your control. On slippery surfaces that have snow, ice, or sand, this may cause you to slide or lose control of your car.
Servicing Your Vehicle
Have your car serviced.You want to make sure your car is in the best shape possible during the winter. You don’t want to break down when it’s snowing or below zero. That can be stressful! Take your car to the mechanic for a checkup, or do your own maintenance on your car.
- Common things that break during the winter include hoses, belts, water pumps, and spark plug wires. You should also check the tire pressure.
Check your battery.Dead batteries are not a good thing to wake up to on a cold morning. Another thing that you should check at the start of the winter is your battery. Old batteries may give out in the cold, or the charging system may not be working correctly. While you are checking the other parts of the car, you should check your battery.
- If you need to get a new battery, make sure it is powerful enough to start your car in the winter. During the winter, your car will have more difficulty starting than in the summer.
Check the antifreeze.Antifreeze is important to keep your car running during the winter. Most cars will do best with a mixture of water and antifreeze. For most winter weather, 60 percent antifreeze and 40 perfect water will be fine. In extreme winter conditions, use 70 percent antifreeze and 30 percent water. This helps keep the engine cool while having a low freezing point.
- Check your manual for specific antifreeze type recommendations.
Replace your wipers.Having your wipers going out while on the road is no fun. If you live in an area with a lot of ice and snow, you should put winter wipers on your car. These wipers are heavy and are specially made to keep ice from collecting on the wipers.
- Before you turn off the car, make sure to turn off the wipers. Your blades can freeze on the windshield, which can mess up the motor of the wipers when you try to use them again.
Buy snow tires.If you live in an area where it snows often every year, you put snow tires on your car. Snow tires can be difficult to put on your car, so permanently mount them on steel rims that a tire shop can easily put on your car in winter.
- You can store the tires during the winter, or many tire shops will store the tires and rims for you.
Fill up your windshield washer fluid.Snow and icy conditions can make seeing out of your windshield difficult. If you drive behind a car, you may also get salt and road grime sprayed on your windshield. You need to put washer fluid in your car that is made for snow and below freezing temperatures.
- Winter formulas of washer fluid help remove snow and ice and doesn’t freeze.
Winterizing Your Car
Keep your gas tank filled.One of the most important things you can do during the winter is keep enough gas in your car. If your car happens to break down, you will need to keep it running to stay warm. Doing this requires gas, so make sure you have a full tank for emergencies.
- When you idle your car to stay warm, the gas will last a long time.
- Keeping your tank full also helps you not to run out of gas if you get too low.
Place sand in the back of your rear-wheel-drive vehicle.Rear-wheel-drive cars may slide more than other cars on snowy or slick roads. Placing a couple of bags of sand in your trunk can help stabilize your car.
- Place the bags in your trunk behind the rear axle. The bags should be around the middle of your trunk.
- Avoid placing too much weight in the back of your car since that can lift up the front of your car. Try starting with around 20 pounds.
Place a winter supplies in your car.You should stock a few helpful basic supplies in your car during the winter. Keep a snowbrush and ice scraper in your car to deal with windows. You should also place some extra washer fluid in case you run out while you are driving.
- You may also want to keep a shovel and bag of sand in the trunk to help in case you get stuck or can’t get traction.
Put an emergency kit in your car.In case you break down, you have an emergency kit full of items to help you stay warm. Gather blankets, gloves, hats, food, water, and any medication you may need in your vehicle.
Refrain from driving when you’re tired.Driving when you’re tired slows your response times. Your focus and concentration is also compromised. During wintry conditions, this can be extremely dangerous. Try not to drive in snow or ice when you are tired or haven’t had proper rest.
Check the weather reports.Before you go somewhere, especially a long distance away, you should check the weather. You should also do this if you are going to isolated areas. This helps you know what to expect. If the weather is very bad, you should postpone your trip.
- When you travel in winter conditions, let someone know where you are going and what time you should arrive.
Keep your cell phone charged.Make sure your cell phone has a full battery whenever you leave the house. You may also carry a cell phone charger in your car and keep your phone plugged up so you always have a full battery. If you break down or have any problems, you will be able to call for help.
Practice driving in winter weather.Practice makes perfect! If you're unfamiliar with driving in snowy and icy weather conditions, practice after a storm in a large, empty parking lot with a seasoned driver. Practice how to brake safely, how to get out of a skid, and how your car handles in winter weather. This can actually be a lot of fun!
Stay home if possible.Use winter weather as an excuse for a night in. Even if you can drive in winter weather, you are putting yourself at risk by going out. Other drivers pose a danger to you. Slick roads and black ice are also risks even to an experienced driver. Unless you have to go out, stay off the roads.
QuestionWhat is more difficult to drive on? Packed snow or slush?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe answer depends on the the temperature and level of precipitation. I live in the Rustbelt region of the country and I have found it more difficult to drive when the conditions change rapidly from rain-ice-snow-ice-rain. I would say that slush or sleet is the more difficult of the two to drive over. With packed snow, a solid surface is obtainable and the tire tread grips more effectively. A slushy surface does not allow much traction.Thanks!
QuestionCan snow tires be used in warm climates?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTechnically yes, but it is better if you use normal tires.Thanks!
QuestionWhen should I switch to AWD in the winter?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis is really a judgment call. If you don't know the road and the road conditions seem unsafe, use all wheel drive. If the conditions are better, you can use 2 wheel drive. In large part, it's the quality and type of tires you use that will determine how well your vehicle handles in winter weather.Thanks!
QuestionIs it good to slip it in neutral when going downhill?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo! Keep in control of the car at all times. There won't be enough time to switch gears before you end up in an accident.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I drive an automatic uphill in the snow?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDrive up hills slowly. Try coasting up hills without your foot on the gas pedal, just using your car's natural inertia. If you have to accelerate a bit more, gently press the gas pedal to give the car a little more speed. Don't hit the gas pedal too hard or gun the engine. This could cause you to spin or fishtail.Thanks!
QuestionWill using my brakes in the snow make the car slide out of control?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, if you use them too quickly. Gradually applying pressure to the brake pedal should do the trick. Never do anything fast or risky in the snow. To stay safe, you should treat snow like ice.Thanks!
Would driving in transmission setting M help me in snow and ice conditions?
How do I back out of a driveway on a hill in winter weather?
Should I keep a canister filled with some gas in my trunk, just in case?
How do you plug in a car in a very cold weather climate?
Before you drive a car in winter weather, make sure you brush off any snow on your car and scrape the ice off of your windshield. When you start driving, go slowly, especially if it icy out. When you go and stop, press the gas and brake pedals gently to avoid skidding or sliding. When stopping, give yourself plenty of room and leave big gaps between your car and the car in front of you. If you start to skid, release the gas slightly and gently turn the steering wheel in the direction you want to go.
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