Winter Driving Tips

Driving can be challenging anytime, but driving in the winter is especially harrowing. If you live in a place that gets cold, snowy winters like Chicago, you know that sometimes you have to be out driving in inclement conditions. So if you must be out anyways, it’s a good idea to learn how to drive safely. Once you do, you’ll have more confidence when going from one destination to the next in bad weather. If you’re wondering how to drive safely this season, here are some tips.

Get Your Car Serviced

It’s important to keep up with general car service and maintenance anytime, but this is especially true in winter. After all, no one likes to get stuck with a broken-down car when it’s snowy and cold! Before the winter season arrives, bring your car in to your neighborhood Jiffy Lube for basic maintenance and service such as an oil change, brake check, or tire rotation. Since the cold weather can easily drain the life out of your battery, it’s a good idea to have your battery tested, too.

Avoid Cruise Control

When you’re driving down the highway in summer, you probably put on cruise control out of habit to give yourself a break. But in winter, it’s never a good idea to put your car on cruise control. Cruise control works by setting a speed for your car. In turn, it reduces your ability to manually control the car’s speed. The danger of cruise control is that if the car’s wheels hit a slippery spot and start to skid, the car will continue to keep going at the same speed. Essentially, you should only use cruise control on dry, clear road surfaces.

Keep the Tank Half Full

While you might be able to drive on a tank that’s nearly empty in summer, the same cannot be said for the winter. In the winter, the gas lines in your engine can freeze if there is not enough fuel in the tank. Therefore, you should keep the tank half full if you’re driving on cold days. There is also a safety component to keeping a tank partially full. In bad weather, the time it takes to travel between places can be dramatically increased. The extended time that it takes to reach your destination can drain your gas tank. If you don’t have enough in the tank to begin with, your gasoline supply will run out sooner than expected.

Before You Leave

In some states, it is actually illegal to drive with a car that is covered in snow and ice. But even if there are no laws against it, it’s a good idea to clear debris off anyways. Snow and ice can come loose as you’re driving and fly into the path of oncoming vehicles. They can also get blown backwards into your windshield, which is at the very least a distraction. Ice hitting your windshield can also cause it to crack. Make sure to clear the head and tail lights before leaving, and don’t forget to clear off the sensors if your car has them. When you bring your car in for a general overview at your neighborhood Jiffy Lube, it’s also a good time to make sure your lights are working properly.

Don’t Start the Car in Your Garage

When it’s cold out, people are often tempted to start their cars to warm them up before getting in. This is fine if your car is outside, but starting it indoors can be dangerous. Your car produces carbon monoxide, which is an odorless gas that can be lethal when inhaled. It doesn’t take long for carbon monoxide to accumulate in a closed space, especially if you keep the doors closed. Therefore, it’s best to start the car, back it out of the garage immediately, and then leave it to warm up for a few minutes if it feels too cold.

Avoid Mixing Tires

If you have tires of the same kind, but made by different brands, you can usually get away with driving on different tires. However, it’s never a good idea to mix and match tires of a different variety, such as all-season and snow tires. Tires are designed to function in specific weather conditions. Snow tires, for instance, have a distinct tread that gives them extra grip on slippery road surfaces. If you have less than a full set of snow tires on your car when the road conditions are dicey, you run the risk of losing valuable traction. Putting different tires on your car can also affect its handling and performance. In addition to having less grip on the road, you might not be able to steer and stop as effectively when you are driving with mismatched tires. While it’s never a good idea to match different kinds of tires based on their intended use, it’s also a bad idea to match radial tires with other types of tires. And if you’re wondering “can a Jiffy Lube near me offer advice on the best tires to get for my car?”, the answer is “yes.” It’s always wise to have a professional’s opinion on an important component of your car.

Drive Steadily up Hills

When you approach a hill that’s covered with snow, your first instinct might be to hit the accelerator and try to power up it. But this can just make your wheels spin, which in turn will cause your car to stop moving. As you approach the top of the hill, ease off the gas pedal so the car goes downhill as slowly and safely as possible.

Pack a Winter Safety Kit

If you know that you’re going to be out driving in winter weather, it’s always wise to have an emergency kit in your car. This way, you’ll be able to wait comfortably for help in case you get stranded somewhere. And if you happen to have a winter safety kit and other drivers don’t, you’ll be able to come to their aid if necessary.

At the least, your car should have the following items for winter driving:

  • Ice scraper or shovel
  • Salt or sand in case the car gets stuck
  • Jumper cables
  • Flashlight
  • Flares or other emergency warning devices
  • Blankets
  • Extra food and water
  • Extra batteries and a cell phone charger

In addition to the winter-specific items above, you might also want to pack a first aid kit in your car in case you get injured. Along those lines, if you have medication that you take on a regular basis, it doesn’t hurt to bring extra supplies along, especially if you’re going to be traveling through more remote areas.

Practice Makes Perfect

Winter driving is treacherous and hazardous, which means you need to take extra precautions to prepare your car and yourself. Having the right equipment in your car goes a long way in staying safe during winter, as does using common sense such as not starting your car in a closed space and keeping the gas tank at least partially full. If you’re wondering “can a Jiffy Lube near me” help get my car ready for winter? The response is yes, most definitely! From performing crucial services to helping you select the right tires for your car, the expert staff at your closest Jiffy Lube is ready to help.

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