With the Polar Vortex threatening to send half the country in a deep freeze, now might not be a bad time to talk about winter driving. The last thing you want to do is get yourself stuck and spun out once the weather turns cold and snowy, especially on a great road trip.
If you’ve never had to brave a foot or two of snow and ice to get out of the house, driving in the winter probably seems very daunting. You might think what could possibly be different about driving in the winter? The answer is, plenty!
Add Weight to the Car
It might seem a bit unconventional, but the truth is, a heavier car is going to be a lot less likely to slip around in the ice and snow. This is especially true if you have a car that is real wheel drive, which includes many sports cars.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on getting a new set of tires, then go for a simple but effective technique: cinder blogs. Sounds crazy, but adding a cinder block or two (or a bag of kitty litter) in the trunk of your car will help your drive be much smoother.
A lot of winter driving lies in your comfort level, while you might see people in their heavy all wheel drive trucks go roaring down the driveway, don’t feel like you need to compete. Go at a speed that makes you comfortable.
When you’re on a highway during a snowstorm or that is covered in snow or ice, reduce your speeds down from 65-70 to 35-40. Hop over into the right hand lane, and concentrate on keeping a reasonable speed that you will be able to comfortably control.
Don’t Slam the Brakes
Now this probably seems counter-intuitive, by any experienced winter driver will tell you the worst thing you can do if you start skidding on snow or ice is to slam on the brakes. What will happen is your braking system will lock up, and your tires will actually speed up your skid, not fun!
Instead, take your foot off the brake, and steer to ride out the skid. It’s OK to gently tap the brakes to help slow you down. This technique is very similar to what you should do if you hydroplane. The key is don’t panic and you’ll be fine, most ice slicks are pretty short.
Embrace Kitty Litter
Why do sales of kitty litter go up come the winter in the northern parts of the US? Because, it is a fantastic tool for helping you get unstuck from a pile of snow or ice!
Remember that bag you were tossing in your trunk for extra weight? Well, when you find your tires stuck in the snow or ice and spinning out, simply grab that bag and sprinkle it under your tires. It won’t take long before you’re free and back on the road again!
Have any of your own winter driving tips? Let us know in the comments!