When it comes to driving in wintry weather, the first and best option for you is to stay home. However, this is not always possible for some individuals. When you have no choice but to travel during the cold, it is essential you take every measure possible to stay safe. Here are some tips from our local mechanics on driving in inclement weather.
Lower Air Pressure by ⅞ of Pressure
The air in your tires often compresses in the winter, leaving drivers with low tire pressure. Many drivers then go to extra lengths to make sure their tires are filled completely. Properly inflated tires are essential for fuel efficiency and vehicle handling. However, when you are driving in the snow, slightly lowering your tire pressure can help increase your traction. Our mechanics recommend lowering the air pressure to ⅞ of your air capacity. You should ensure that your tires are not left underinflated, and you should reinflate them to your full recommended PSI once the threat of wintery roads has passed.
Have a Windshield Scraper
Wintery weather often means that you can come outside to find your windshield covered in ice. This can leave you waiting for your defrost to kick in, or using a makeshift ice scraper—such as an old credit card. To ensure that you have quick and effective visibility during hazardous conditions, make sure that you are prepared by keeping an ice scraper in your car. These can be found at most major retailers, and they are usually a very affordable, trouble-saving investment.
Don’t Slam on Your Breaks
When driving in wintery weather, it is best to avoid slamming on your breaks. Aggressive braking can cause your car to skid, leaving you with less control over your vehicle. Instead, gradually let off of your accelerator and leave yourself with as much time as possible to stop. You will also want to ensure that your brake pads have more than 1/4th of an inch of material on them for safe, effective braking.
Check Your Tire Tread
Tire tread is important for vehicle safety and handling year-round, but it is perhaps most essential during wintery weather conditions. The tread on your tires collects snow, helping your tires reach the road. It also gives you the most control possible when you hit a spot of bad weather. If your tires have less than 2/32 of an inch of tread left, you are due for a replacement. Here is how you can check your tire tread depth using your wear indicator bars and other tests.
Make Sure Your Battery is Ready
Why does it seem like dead batteries always hit at the worst possible times, such as in wintery weather conditions? There is actually a clear correlation between cold temperatures and dead batteries. Extreme winter weather conditions can deplete the charge of your battery. Additionally, cold weather requires more power for your vehicle to start. This is why wintery weather is the catalyst for many battery replacements, as batteries near the end of their lifespan cannot manage this stress. You can take a few key steps to prepare for winter battery troubles:
- When possible, park your vehicle in your garage.
- Keep a set of jumper cables in your car, or—better yet—a jump-starting battery pack.
- If you have a jump-starting battery pack, make sure that it is fully charged at all times. The cold weather can deplete this power level as well. During extreme temperatures, you may consider bringing your portable battery starter inside at night to keep it charged. Just don’t forget to bring it back out with you again in the morning.
- If you find that your vehicle is struggling to start, have your battery and starting system checked by a mechanic. This can help you avoid battery troubles before they leave you stranded.
- Make sure your battery terminal ends are clean and free of corrosion.
These steps can help you avoid the stress and trouble of a dead car battery. If you find that you need help on the road, here is our guide to jump-starting your battery.
Chapel Hill Tire: Professional Winter Car Care
When you find that your car is not ready for wintery weather, it is best to get it serviced before snowfall becomes a threat. The professionals at Chapel Hill Tire are here for you and all of your winter car needs. You can find the lowest prices on new tires and coupons for battery replacements & other vehicle services. Make your appointment here online, or visit one of our 9 Triangle-area locations to get started today!