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Staying Safe: A Winter Driving Checklist

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Subaru WRX in snow

It’s winters like this that make me want to pack up and move to California.. If you live in the Northeast like me, you know how much snow we’ve gotten so far, and (gulp) there’s even more on the horizon.

While we can’t stop Mother Nature from dumping even more snow on you, we can make sure that you’re safe if you have to drive in it. So make sure you follow our winter driving checklist. Because trust me, the winter is one time when you definitely don’t want to be unprepared!

Snow Tires

If you live in a climate where you get lots of snowfall, you should definitely invest in a set of snow tires. While most people drive on all-season tires, there’s really no comparison to a winter tire that’s specifically designed to cut through the snow. And if you live in a more temperate climate where snow tires don’t make sense, just make sure that your existing tires have good tread depth left.

Windshield Wipers

There’s nothing more dangerous than the potential loss of visibility due to snow and ice accumulating on your windshield, and not being able to clear it because your windshield wipers are worn out. You should replace your wiper blades (or inserts) at the first sign of wear, or just do it every spring and fall like clockwork. This is something I learned the hard way, and it made for a VERY stressful drive home.

Wiper Fluid

Have you ever checked your windshield washer fluid level? Probably not, as dealerships tend to top it off for you when you take your car in for service. But in the winter months, we use more fluid than normal to wipe away all the salt and grime that gets kicked up after a snowstorm. If you’re not on top of this, when you go to clean your windshield, nothing will come out of the nozzles. Make sure you keep your reservoir full, and you even want to keep a bottle of windshield washer fluid with you in case you run out.

car-stuck-in-snow

Gasoline

During the winter months, make sure you keep your gas tank at least half full. As moisture can accumulate in your vehicle’s gas tank, maintaining a half to full tank of gasoline can prevent your fuel line from freezing up. Not to mention, if you get stuck in a long traffic jam because of weather, the last thing you want to do is run out of gas (and heat)!

Ice Scraper

A good snowbrush and ice scraper is a must-have for clearing snow and ice from your vehicle. Be sure you clear all of your windows of ice and snow before driving, and remember to clear away ice and snow from your headlights, turn signals, brake lights (including the high center-mounted brake light), and your license plates. If you’re ill prepared, you might have to chip away at the ice with a credit card, which isn’t fun at all.

And a final word of advice. Keep some distance between you and any tractor trailers on the road. Not only will they cover your car in salt and grime that they kick up from the road, but since they can’t clean the top of their trailers, it’s not uncommon for large chunks of snow and ice to fly off without warning. I had a chunk of ice fly off a truck and hit my car last week, and it was a miracle that it didn’t crack my windshield.. Or worse.

Stay safe out there!

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