These tips for driving in snow can help you stay safe on your winter explorations. The way we see it: if the snow is falling, adventures are calling! That being said, driving on wet or icy roads presents unique challenges. Lower temperatures and slippery roadways reduce tire traction while driving on snow or ice causes an even greater reduction in traction.
Driving slowly and investing in quality snow tires are the first two things you can do to improve traction and stay safe. Read on to learn more tips for driving in snow and enjoying the adventure!
Top Related Article – Best Winter Campground
1. Drive Slow in the Snow
The most important tip for driving in snow is to take it slow. Turning, braking, accelerating, going down a hill, everything takes longer when it’s snowing. The risk of getting into an accident greatly increases if you try to move at the same speed you would on dry pavement.
Driving too fast can easily cause you to lose control, especially if you hit an unexpected ice patch. Avoid relying on cruise control when driving over any wet or slippery surfaces. Driving in snow requires greater concentration, that’s why AAA recommends avoiding driving if you feel fatigued or tired.
2. Regularly Fill Up on Gas
Don’t let your gas get below the half-way meter or else you could face a gas line freeze-up.
3. Invest in All Purpose Snow Tires
A solid set of quality all-purpose tires is a great investment for safely driving in snow. It’s not uncommon for people to skip out on all-purpose snow tires because they are more expensive. But, think of it like this: it’s WAY more expensive to get in a car accident than it is to spend a little more on quality tires that can handle snow and ice.
Additionally, depending on roadway conditions, you may need to outfit tires with snow chains. We recommend bringing a set of tire chains with you, even if you’re unsure if you’ll need them or not. If you run into a situation where you do need them, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure your snow chains are the right size; steer clear of tire chains that are too big or too small for your tires.
- Don’t use a combination of 4 different tires, or mix radial tires with other types of tires.
- Make sure all 4 tires are properly inflated.
It’s important to have the right tow hitch and set-up if you plan to tow something while driving in snow. Vault Cargo’s 2-pack D-Ring Shackles are made to help you safely tow in even the harshest winter weather. Each D-Ring offers 4.75-ton towing capacity for a total of 19,000 pounds when both shackles are used. Vault Cargo’s shackles are made from drop forged steel for unbeatable durability. Plus, they are finished with powder coating to prevent rust.
Before You Tow in the Snow…
- Is your vehicle equipped to tow the weight you are expecting it to tow?
- Are your tires in good enough condition to safely tow?
- Do you have experience driving and towing in snow? There’s nothing wrong with practicing in an empty snow-covered parking lot before embarking on your adventure.
5. Keep an Eye on the Exhaust Pipe
Check your exhaust pipe to ensure it’s not packed with ice, snow or mud. A blocked tailpipe can lead to deadly carbon monoxide poisoning because it can leak into the passenger compartment while the engine is running.
6. Braking & Accelerating in the Snow
It takes longer to brake and accelerate on wet or slippery roadways. Braking or accelerating too hard or too fast is the easiest way to lose control or slide.
While normal roadway conditions have a general following distance of 3-4 seconds, this is increased to 8-10 seconds whenever roadways are wet or slick. Let’s say it takes 150-feet to stop in normal roadway conditions; when it snows, it could take 300, 500 or even 1,000-feet to make the same stop.
Become familiar with your brakes before you take off. Regardless if you have antilock brakes or not, professional drivers recommend using the “threshold breaking” method. This involves keeping your heel planted on the floorboard, and using just your toe to apply firm pressure to the pedal.
Drive as slowly as possible downhill and avoid hitting your accelerator too hard when going uphill. Hitting the accelerator too hard will cause the tires to spin faster on wet or slippery surfaces.
Avoid coming to a complete stop as often as possible to limit your risk of getting stuck. Always use your brake the same way you use your accelerator in the snow, slowly and smoothly. If the brake begins to shudder and you’re driving a newer-model vehicle, you’re likely feeling the ABS (automatic braking system) kicking on. Continue braking and let your car do its job. If you drive slowly and plan ahead, you can avoid activating the ABS.
7. If You Need to Be Found
Pack extra clothes, blankets, food, water, medication, etc. That way, you have enough supplies to survive if you happen to get stuck in a bad storm or become lost. Attach brightly colored fabric to your antenna or coming out the top of a rolled-up window as a universal signal for distress. If it’s dark, turn on the dome light to help rescuers locate your vehicle.