Guide to Winter Driving header image

Guide to Winter Driving

The leaves have turned, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is cooling off, too. While you might be focused on getting your home ready for winter, don’t forget about the importance of winterizing your vehicles and preparing yourself and your family for driving during winter weather.

Winterize Your Car with These Top Tips

Keeping your vehicle running safely is a top priority. Here are five tips to winterize your vehicle this winter:

  1. Gas up

    Imagine pushing a stalled vehicle out of traffic because you’ve run out of gas. Now, imagine it during a cold, blustery, single-digit temp night with stinging wind biting you in the face. It’s not fun, and it certainly isn’t safe. Make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent gas line freeze ups. We understand leaving your warm driver’s seat to fill your tank doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s worth it. Don’t gamble your safety by trying to get to your destination on fumes.

  2. Check your battery

    This may be one of the most overlooked winterizing tips each year. Most car batteries need to be replaced every three to five years. Is yours due for a change?

  3. Mount winter tires

    People who live in snowy areas often equip their vehicles with all-season tires without switching to winter tires when the weather changes. While there are advantages to all-season tires, there are several benefits to snow tires as well, especially when the temperatures start to drop. When temperatures continually hover around or below freezing, the rubber compounds in non-winter tires harden, decreasing the grip on the road. Enter, winter tires. “Winter” or “snow tires are made to withstand icy and snowy roads by keeping better tread grip and road contact during these conditions. The tread on snow tires is designed with special patterns which allow the tires to dig into snow and ice.

  4. Maintain tire pressure

    During winter, 10 degrees can feel like a big difference, and it can for your tires, too. Did you know that every 10 degrees change can mean a gain or loss of 1 PSI on tires? That means you should check your tire pressure more regularly during the winter and refill your tires if needed. Can’t remember how to inflate them? Check your vehicle owner’s manual or the place card in the driver’s side door for instructions. Also, know the age of your tires. Tires should be rotated every 3,000 to 6,000 miles to help them wear more evenly and last longer.

  5. Keep your rear-window defroster in working order

    While it’s important to know what’s going on in front of you on an icy roadway, it’s just as important to know what’s going on behind you, too. Make sure ​to winterize your rear-window defroster by checking to see if is working properly because if not, it can create unsafe driving conditions. In fact, several state laws state that all your windows must be clear of condensation and debris.

Gear up for Winter Driving

When the forecast calls for snow, sleet or ice, the safest course of action is to stay off the roads. But when there’s somewhere you need to be, use these tips to help you prepare for winter travel.

  1. Get a pre-winter check-up for your car.

    Before the snow is even in the forecast, take your car in for recommended car maintenance to ensure it’s in top condition to handle winter driving. Make sure the heater is in good working condition, and winter tires are installed if needed.

  2. Pack a winterizing kit.

    Use this checklist for packing all the essentials before heading out.

      • Extra antifreeze and windshield wiper fluid
      • Blankets
      • A shovel
      • An ice scraper
      • A flashlight
      • Bags of sand or kitty litter to help you gain traction on slippery surfaces like parking lots
      • Extra drinking water
      • Non-perishable snacks
  3. Know the road conditions.

    Before you venture out, check your state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) website to get the scoop on road conditions. Or, download the INRIX® TRAFFIC! App for instant access to traffic information. Keep in mind that even partially snow-covered roads can pose a driving hazard, so it’s important to exercise caution.

  4. Be prepared for a roadside emergency.

    Ask your insurance agent about adding emergency roadside assistance coverage to your auto policy, so you’ll have reliable help when you need it.

  5. Cut the distractions.

    Concentrate on the road, and that means eliminating driving distractions. Take the extra time to make sure your visibility isn’t compromised by frost, ice or snow. Put away your phone, turn off the music, and ask your travel companions to keep their voices down. Keep your hands on the wheel, and your eyes on the road.

  6. Slow down and keep your distance.

    Not only do you need to focus on your driving, but you also need to be alert and aware of the cars around you. Don’t use your cruise control, and avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes. Be extra cautious on bridges, ramps and overpasses, as they may freeze first. And remember this rule – if your wipers are on, your lights should be on, too.

Whether you embrace the cold weather and snow or are counting down the days until summer, make sure you connect with a farm bureau agent and protect yourself on the road.

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