Practical Winter Driving Tips You Need To Know Immediately

People drive for so many reasons, if you were to ask me, I drive not just to transport myself from one place or another. I drive because I also want to have a break – away from the busy life of work.

However, this is not always the case. Driving can be full of stress at times especially when the weather is cold. That is why I wanted to create an entry that would tackle practical winter driving tips.

Every driver needs to be aware of these strategies especially if you live in a locality with an icy climate. This would not only alleviate you from stress, it will also save you from accidents and prolong the lives of your cars.


You will see that the article is broken down into several sections; here are the components of each:

  • Winter car specifications – in this part, I am going to tell you what are the car parts you should pay attention to and how are you going to care for your car
  • Winter driving survival kits – this part will answer the question “what are the things you should always prepare and bring with you as you drive?”
  • Winter driving 101 – how should you drive during this cold season will be explained in this section
  • Long winter drives – I will discuss what should you do if you are planning to conduct a long winter drive soon and how are you going to start a cold car
  • Preventing accidents – accidents are common during winter although it is not impossible to prevent it. I will be providing you additional safety tips in this area.
  • What to do in case – Just in case, but we always hope you do not, encounter any problems while you are on the road, this segment will teach you how to deal with them.
  • Managing ice – this unit will inform you how to cope with winter’s number one issue: ice
  • Fact or myth – I will be busting myths and proving facts about winter driving tips we see and hear from the net and other people
  • Frequently asked questions – this last part will answer five common questions winter drivers inquire about
Practical Winter Driving Tips You Need To Know Immediately

Quick Navigation

Why Winter Driving Needs Special Attention


Our country allows us to enjoy hot and cold weathers. People behind the wheel may tell you their own preferences and I assure you that majority of them will not choose icy or snowy conditions as it poses a different threat for drivers.

It is not true that only winter season is hazardous as summertime has its own issues too. This includes the need to prevent emergency heat-related health concerns (like heat stroke and cramps).

Car related concerns are also possible during summer like the frequent blowing of tires. Matching these given situations will not surpass the hazards of winter driving by any means.

There is always a first time

Although you might have been driving for months since you got your license, driving on a chilly climate will present a different challenge for you. You might notice that there’s a huge difference but there is no need to worry too much if you are well prepared.

You do not have to feel so intimidated as well because there is always a first time for everyone and believe me all expert drivers underwent the same struggles.

Problems That May Arise During Winter

The cold weather may seem enjoyable. I am sure you can imagine spending time with your family on a 10-hour road trip without dropping any sweat. You feel cool even without the help of your air-conditioning unit.

Granting that is true, winter driving is not a bed of roses.

Visibility Problems


The sun sets earlier during winter. This means that darkness will envelop the sky and roads longer.

This condition, together with rain or fog or snowfall can even make things worse. It will be more difficult to see the road or the cars going in the opposite direction (and even the one who is sharing yours).​

With all of these, accidents during winter season dramatically increase.​

Heavy Traffic


This problem can be subsequent to different reasons and one of which would be the obstructions that can be seen on the road. Yes, construction sites will be rarely seen during winter but motorists actually steer away from:

  • The icy part of the road
  • Lumps of snows
  • Slushes
  • Cars

That have been stuck or lost power or those which encountered an accident.

On top of that, snow management operations can also cause temporary traffic despite the good intention of clearing the road in the long run.

Of course, we cannot avoid another fact that there are certain human errors that can cause heavy traffic such as those mishaps that happened because the driver was using his or her handheld device, those who do not follow instructions properly, and those who counter flow despite all warnings.

Natural Disasters


Snow storms, avalanches, blizzards are just a few of the natural calamities we can experience during winter.

It is very important for us to stay in the loop with weather forecasts so that we can avoid driving during these conditions.

The snow itself can create numerous perils: its accumulation on the road can block a lane or the entire motorway and the snow can bring about too much heft that the roof of houses or establishments cannot handle.

In the same light, trees can be knocked down due to the heavy weight. If this happens on the road, it can once again serve as a barrier for motorists.

Health Hazards


If you can suffer from different kinds of heat-related illnesses, expect the same thing during the cold season of the year. Here are the major ones:


Hypothermia or abnormally low body temperature. This happens when your body loses heat so fast that it cannot keep up. This can lead to decreased consciousness. In severe occasions, people die because of hypothermia.


If you constantly get yourself exposed to 60 °F temperature and above, you can also experience chilblains.

With this kind of condition, your blood vessels, particularly the ones responsible for the trading of your gasses, nutrients, and waste (known as capillaries) will be damaged permanently.


Frostbite affects the parts of the body that do not get an adequate amount of blood flow due to constriction of blood vessels.

When it is cold, your vessels tend to decrease its diameter; this condition together with the chilly temperature can freeze your cheeks, chin, ears, nose and even the digits on your hands and feet.


Another illness that is directly related to the cold weather would be immersion foot. Although the feet can actually hold up the heat, this diminishes 25 times faster when it is wet. 

Trench foot (another name for this condition), can happen if the temperature gets 60 °F or more. You will see that your feet are starting to swell, get red, or numb. 

You will also observe that you are experiencing pins and needles, blood clots are starting to form as well as ulcers or blisters, and the feet may change color to blue or gray or dark purple.

Winter Car Specifications

The climate does not only expose the riders in peril. It also challenges the capabilities of your car to withstand the consequences of the season.

This is why I dedicated a whole section to the parts of your car that should be well taken cared of.

Car Parts



Characteristics Of The Tires

You might have heard about winter tires but are hesitant to purchase them because your tire says it is suitable for all seasons. Before we go further, let me point out important factors you have to consider:

  • Studs – decades ago, one of the best companions for winter driving is studded tires. A number of metals are implanted in the tread so they can dig into the snow.

    This could be perfect for snow covered roads but they could cause damages if there are no ice on the surface. It is not surprising, therefore, for some localities to ban the use of studded tires. Another con for using studded tires would be the noise it produces.
  • Tread – this part of the wheel is important because it is the one that directly gets in contact with the ground. Anything related to the tread matters as it can affect its traction.

    Due to the increasing number of states outlawing the use of studded tires, tire manufacturers shifted their focus on improving the tread.The rubber component in winter tires has a flexible built. With this, road gripping is enhanced.

    The distance downwards from the ground and the arrangement of the lines you see on your tires are also distinguishable. You will notice that it is made deeper (so that build-ups of snow will be minimal to none) and that the grooves, lugs, ribs, sipes and studs are designed to encourage removal and routing ice and snow.

To sum, all season tires stay true to its name as long as it does not experience extreme temperature changes.

This means that it is not made to perfectly withstand ice and snow for a long period of time. It can, however, endure it if it only gets exposed every now and then.

Buying Tires

Should you decide to go for a winter tire make sure to mount or change the entire set especially if you are using an all-wheel drive car. You do not want to lose traction and skid or lose control, don’t you?

This will happen in due course if you only modify the front or rear wheels.

I understand, however, that sometimes, we cannot simply afford to purchase the complete set. If this is also your concern, getting two new tires is better than nothing.

Tire Pressure

Last 2008, there was a mandate given to all new car manufacturing companies. They were required to install tire pressure monitoring system before releasing the car to the public. This instruction was given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The pressure of your tires should not be overlooked. This should be assessed before winter sets in while taking into consideration the fact that tire pressures adjust depending on the hotness or coldness of the weather.

As a guide, know that for every 10° change in temperature, your tire pressure will drop one pound. That kind of alteration will put you and your car in danger.

This would not be a problem for you if you have a model which was just recently released because they are equipped with an alarm system that is connected to your tires.

This will give you a notification in case of hazardous car pressure vagaries. But, if your vehicle is old, then there is no other choice than to do it manually, regularly.

Inadequate tire pressure may lead to premature wearing. It can also cause hazardous separation of your tire treads. This is a risky situation as low tire pressures can go uncontrollable.



The lights have two purposes: it makes others visible to you and it makes you visible to others. This part of the car is very useful at night. During winter, however, the sun sets earlier.

With this in mind, you have to ensure that the lights are not busted. The lights should be powerful enough to serve its purpose as well.



If you are driving a new model, your car may be equipped with high-tech devices that can protect you from harm such as an anti-lock braking system or electronic stability control. Let us discuss them both one at a time.

Exhaust Pipes


Your exhaust pipes are very important. Always check if it snow or mud is causing blockages.

If this happens, this could be dangerous to the health as it will expose the driver and passengers to carbon monoxide.

Poisoning and worse, death could happen if the proper intervention will not be given.



The charging system of your car is salient because of so many reasons. Primarily, you do not want to get stranded because your battery suddenly gets drained. Winter driving requires more power and energy.

During winter, you have to acknowledge the fact that your car needs more effort before it could start its engine. A huge factor that can cause this condition would be your engine oil. 

As the temperature drops, your engine oil becomes coagulated; therefore it will not flow easily this time.

Technically speaking, your batteries have the tendency to drain faster if the weather is cooler as well.

When you are going for a winter drive, you have to make sure that your batteries are functioning well.

You can do this by following your manufacturer’s instruction or by simply checking the charge indicators of maintenance-free batteries. To be sure, bring it to a mechanic so that they can check its performance.

Batteries that are manifesting poor conduction and or batteries that have been utilized for 5 or more years should be replaced.

The warning signs of batteries you should not ignore include difficulty in starting your car, interior lights are starting to flicker, engine light starts to dim, there is a slow engine crank, and sulfur fume odor becomes apparent.

Heater And Defroster

Defrosters, especially in your rear-windows, are salient. I know you do not want to stop the car and wipe the condensation from your glasses every now and then that is why I highly suggest the use of a defroster.


Blades are oftentimes the most snubbed part of your car. Only a few drivers know that wiper blades actually have an expiration date.

Yes, believe it or not, blades are supposed to be replaced twice a year or when it cannot clean completely – whichever comes first.

Oil Filter, Hose

Please do not forget to check the oil filter and the hoses of your radiator and heater. Replace it as needed.

A colder climate makes your car susceptible for obstruction within the passages of your fluids.

Car Care


The importance of anti-freeze for cars during winter cannot be simply expressed in words. Replenish your coolant every now and then or else your engine will freeze in no time.

  • Fill your radiators with 50% water and 50% coolant to achieve an engine freezing point that is lower than the usual.
  • If you are experiencing a cooler climate, 60% anti-freeze and 40% water is desirable.
  • If this ratio is not effective, you can go for a higher 70% to 30% ratio of anti-freeze and water respectively. Flush and refill your cooling system.

Your Gas Tanks

If you always have to refill your coolant (another term for anti-freeze), you also need to keep your gas tanks full during the winter. 

First of all, without gasoline, your engines cannot start and warm you. Be reminded as well that your gas tank can be filled with moisture which, in turn, can freeze and turn into ice.

Windshield Water Fluid

There are different ways on how you can make your own windshield water fluid. You can dilute a window cleaner with distilled water or you can pool ammonia and dish soap.

These two are perfect during summer days. If you are experiencing a cooler weather, on the other hand, you might want to add alcohol (isopropyl alcohol to be particular) to your mixture.

You may choose from 70% to 99% depending on your weather. The lower the temperature, the higher the percentage of the rubbing alcohol you should use.

On the other hand, there is a concoction which is not advisable in warm weather. This means that this mixture is perfect during winter. You may combine white vinegar combined with distilled water to create your windshield washer fluid.

Wiper Blades

Make sure you replace all your blades to something that can endure the temperature. Rubbers are very good repellants for snow build-ups.


The air in your tires should be kept at its correct pressure. Make sure you check it and pump air if necessary before driving.

Overinflated or underinflated tires can cause accidents.

Air Filter

Check your filters and change them if there is a need to. If it is filthy, you might experience problems with the engine and believe it or not, dirty filters actually burn more gasoline.

Winter Driving Survival Kit

Your winter driving survival kit should contain the following items:

  • Blanket
  • Booster cables
  • Candles
  • Extra clothes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Fuel line antifreeze
  • Ice scraper
  • Match or lighter
  • Non-perishable energy sources
  • Road flares
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Snowbrush
  • Tow rope or chain
  • Warning lights

Well, apparently, they are basically useless if you do not know how to use them. So be sure to take some time learning how to operate and practicing the methods of each item.

  • Blankets will be needed to serve as an insulator or warmer for the driver and passenger just in case you get stuck in the middle of the road.
  • Booster cable is the other name of jumper cable. It is also known as jump leads. These insulated wires will try to help start a dead car suffering from a drained battery. An outside source (oftentimes batteries from other cars) will serve as the main power source and the booster cable will transfer electricity from there to your dead battery.
  • Candles can help in two ways. It can be a source of light and a source of heat.
  • Extra clothes will come handy when you need to change in case your clothes get dirty. It can also provide added warmth as you layer them on top of one another.
  • A fire extinguisher will be helpful not only during winter but in all types of season. Overheating catalytic converters are a top source of vehicular fires. When there is an ignition in your cabin insulator, make sure you halt the fire with the use of your fire extinguisher.
    The use of fire extinguisher can be tricky. Make sure that you are aware of the instructions so you can utilize it properly in case of emergency. You may use the following steps as lifted from the official website of US Department of Labor
    1. Pull the pin
    2. Aim low, point the extinguisher nozzle at the base of the fire
    3. Squeeze the handle to release the extinguishing agent
    4. Sweep from side to side at the base of the fire until it appears to be out.
    5. Repeat steps 2 to 4 in case of re-ignition.

You may also watch this video:

  • First aid kit should contain bandage, splints, alcohol, cotton balls, wound disinfectants, sterilized gauze, and common and maintenance medication of the driver and passenger/s.
  • Fuel line antifreeze prevents blockage in the passageway of your gas and to the pump of your fuel. You pour your antifreeze to your gas tank and wait a few minutes. When you start your engine, the antifreeze and water will be burned during combustion, thereby cleaning certain parts of your engine. This process will allow fast starts and it will also encourage smoother and lighter runs.
  • The match or lighter will light up your candle and it will also be the source of fire when you need one
  • Non-perishable energy sources will provide you necessary carbohydrates and other nutrients to replace the lost ones. Choose energy bars, drinks that are high in protein to keep you on-the-go.
  • Road flares and warning lights serve the same purpose. They caution other drivers about your presence. This is very important during winter since the presence of the snow aside from the shady environment makes the visibility challenging. Flares and warning lights will make you and other drivers safe.
    Do not use flares when there are gas leaks. You may use warning lights or reflectors for safety purposes. Make sure to place them at least 100 steps before your vehicle so that motorists can make adjustments accordingly.
    The flare will have a cap on one of its ends, twist so that you can remove the cap. If you know how to ignite a match, this would not be a problem for you because it shares the same mechanism. Strike the cap and the flare fast to ignite.
  • Sand is usually placed in the trunk of the car to add weight. This process will actually add traction to your car’s rear wheels. Then again, sand is the most common abrasive. Sprinkle the sand over hazardous icy areas such as curves, intersections, and hills.
    Sands should be measured so that it can be effective.  Follow the ratio of 250 pounds for every 1 cubic yard per mile. Add salt to your sand if it is damp because it will be useless if it is wet.
    Unfortunately, the use of sand is discouraged today because they can cause clogs on the sewage systems of the road. Aside from that, it can also damage windshields.
  • A Shovel will make your roads easier to drive in by removing the snow that is obstructing your driveway. Check out Suncast SC2700 20-Inch Snow Shovel/Pusher Combo with Wear Strip And D-Grip Handle.
  • Ice scraper, from the term itself, scrapes the ice off your car. Alternatively, you may use old CDs, plastic cards, and even spatula. Snow brush, on the other hand, allows you to remove ice without scratching your car.
    I recommend you to read this article to help you select the snowbrush that will best suit your needs:
  • Tow rope or chain use will depend on the state in which you would be driving. Other localities prohibit the use of chains as it can snap and hurt (or kill) someone accidentally. In this case, you may use a recovery strap instead.
    The use of tow rope, chain or recovery strap vary depending on its purpose and on the type of vehicle you would like to connect or rescue. Ask your mechanic to teach you its proper use before you go for a drive.

Winter Driving 101

If I could summarize this portion in two words, it is going to be: slow down. Winter driving is not for the impatient and not for the ones who are always in a hurry.

  • Start
  • Speed
  • Spacing
  • Stopping

Before you start your car, you have to assess the quality of the pavement, check if the steering controls can be maneuvered perfectly, and know if the brakes work properly.

One very good advice I learned from an expert is to press the accelerator (pedal for gas) and wait till the tires start to roll. Do not spin your tires as much as possible.

Long Winter Drives

If you do not have a choice but to travel during the cold season of the year, do not forget to let someone know of your plans. Try to communicate with them and let them be updated at all times.

It is highly advised for commuters and drivers alike to wear something bright. Putting eye-catching colors on your car’s antenna is another tip.

How To Start A Cold Car

If you are having a tough time warming up for exercise during winter, you can imagine that it gets more challenging for engines to start.

Sometimes, the machine would refuse to start and you will need to check your battery.

More often than not, there is a fluid gauge in your batteries; the liquid inside should not be iced or else you will need to replace your battery. If not, try boosting your battery and then restart your car once more.

Remember the booster cables we have discussed earlier?

Preventing Accidents



Check The Weather

The first thing that you should do is to check the weather. Yes, a no-brainer isn’t it? That is why it is hard to believe that many drivers overlook this very basic step.

We are lucky because we live in an era wherein we can easily be aware of the news, weather, road and traffic advisories, and other situations outside.

Make sure you follow the social media accounts of concerned government agencies to stay updated. You may also opt to get a subscription from certain news resources and you will get notified through SMS or email to keep you informed about the climate as it happens.

Being aware of the situation outside can help you stay away from harm. Proper planning can also prevent accidents.


Windshields are crucial as it can either improve or worsen the visibility of the road.

Check the wipers. Rubber coverings can come in handy as it prevents accumulation of ice on the blades.

Your windshield washer fluid container should always be at least ¾ full. Take extra precaution when buying your fluids. It is wise to use concentrates when you live in really icy locations.

Do not forget to turn off your wipers first before you shut down your car’s engine. The temperature can freeze your wiper at the position where you left them.
Just so you know, your wiper motor actually resets the blades into its resting state every time you start your car. If the blades are frozen, this could damage the motor by burning it.

Wiper Blades

Check and clean your wiper blades with a paper towel if it is still functioning very well. If not, I recommend that you buy a new one. That is unless you would like to wipe every so often, in which I think you would not agree.

Legally wise, certain states in this country prohibits vehicles to run when there is a snow on the roof or hood of the car. This is because the ice can obstruct your windshield when you slow down, or it can fly off someone else’s car when you suddenly stop.

Either way, the accidents it can bring about are the major concerns. With this, you should never forget to remove all snow on your car.

Wipe Your Lights

Another thing that you should do to prevent accidents during the winter is to wipe your head, fog, and hazard warning lights. There are two reasons why you should do this.

  • First, the lights will enable you to see what is ahead of you clearly.
  • Second, the lights will enable other drivers to know your presence. Clear and visible lights will prevent collisions.

Change Your Oil

Conduct oil change if necessary. Make sure you are using oil that is multi-viscous. Winter causes your oil to become gooey, if there are obstructions, even in small amounts, this can cause clogs, which can cause problems on your engine sooner or later.

Driver Mentality

On any weather, drivers are not supposed to use their cellular phones. They should not drive when they are intoxicated with alcohol or medications that can cause drowsiness. Other common grounds of human-caused-accidents are sleepy drivers.

Safety Priority

When everyone always thinks about safety and is not self-centered, winter driving will be more pleasant despite the truth that it is stressful.

The goal here is that you can arrive at your destination unharmed.


Winter can be unpredictable. There will be sudden rain, unexpected strong winds, a pile of snow on the road, flooded motorways, and others.

You should be watchful. Anticipate what could happen.

Defensive Driving

I admire fellow drivers who would take additional classes for defensive driving.

Aside from the fact that it can save you lots of money from paying traffic offenses since you know the rules and regulations of the road, you can safeguard your car and your life as well as the lives of other people on the road.


Sometimes, we cannot have all the materials we need. A winter driver should be able to think creatively to solve a particular problem.

Skidding Car


You have encountered the word traction so many times in this article, isn’t it? Well, this is because if your car is unable to provide that, skidding might happen.

Skidding is not uncommon during winter as the pavements are wet, covered with snow or glaze – and those are your only choices!

Skids affect your wheels. It could happen two wheels at a time (either front or back), or all at once. Causes of skidding would include sudden brakes and going fast while driving straight or turning in curves.

As a general rule, if this happens, steer in the direction of the skid. Let go of the accelerator and shift into neutral if you can.

There are 5 types of skids, nonetheless. Let us discuss the differences one by one:

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What happens: When you try to increase your speed to fast, the tires will turn faster than the car is roving.

What to do: Let go of the accelerator and eventually the tires will slow down and get back its grip.

Wheel Lockup

What happens: When you try to stop your car too fast, wheel lockup can happen. Contrary to the one above, the car is still moving but the wheels, unfortunately, did not want to move with it.

What to do: Let go of the brake pedal until you feel the wheels starting to rotate again. In some cases, removing your feet entirely of the brakes and then pressing softly will solve the issue.


What happens: 

  • When your rear tires lose traction, oversteering happens. The end part of the car will slide to the sides.
  • Have you ever driven so fast, and then stepped on the brakes as you turn a curve and felt shifting of the weight in front? That is another cause of oversteering.
  • Lastly, if you are unbalanced in the first place (when the front part of the vehicle is heavier than the back), oversteering can take place.

What to do: Let go of the gas pedal when this happens. However, if a change in weight happens, you have to let go of your brakes, and then slowly step on your gas.


Also known as counterskidding or fishtailing.

What happens: Unsuccessful attempts to save your car from oversteering will lead to fishtailing. The back part of your car will continue to skid from side to side.

What to do: Try to solve this immediately. Do not let your car experience the third skid. The third skid is usually the most forceful one and it normally would be so complex to deal with. Aim to steer the wheel in the direction of the road.


Other terms known to describe this skid is understeering or pushing. This is the opposite of oversteering.

What happens: This occurs when you actually are moving too fast when you pass by a curve. The tires in the front lose traction making it difficult to turn.Another cause of plowing is shifting of weights like when your backload is too heavy and then you drive uphill.

What to do:

  • If you still have time, you can take your foot off the accelerator and then step on the pedal gently.
  • Unfortunately, if you are really too fast (in which, by the way, you should never do during winter), you have no choice but to bump your vehicle into something soft.
  • In cases of weight transfer, simply push back the front end back down to the road surface.

An anti-lock braking system can help you if you know how to operate it correctly. This system can discern your speed when you step on your brake pedals.

If there is a notable deceleration in the speed of your wheels, the ABS causes the brake force to decrease, lessening the chances of skids.

If you do not have an anti-lock braking system, on the other hand, use threshold braking. When you are pressing on your brake pedal apply force as much as you can but don’t skid.

Observe the moment when your wheels will start to lock, release the brake slightly and step again. Remember to not pump your brakes. Repeat the procedures several times until you reduce the speed.

What To Do In Case…

There’s Fog


Fog lights will be your best bud when there is fog so turn it on by all means. Ironically, you actually need to activate low-beam headlights instead of the high-beam.

Why? Because of the height, the high-beam will just reflect the droplets of moisture in the fog – making added visibility impediment.

Be considerate to other drivers; turn off the fog lamps on your back.

To be safe, use the right pavement markings for assistance. Never ever tailgate.

It Starts To Rain


I can smell frustration every time I drive at night and it starts to rain, however, that is just the beginning. There are other complications we have to deal when it rains, way more than the splashes of water other cars (especially the big ones) can throw over yours.

To start, there is a risk of aquaplaning. This is why I highly go against driving fast during the rainy season. When you do, your tires can lose contact with the road and float.

Yes, this can also be associated with problems on your tire tread that is why you must follow the correct depth. If your tires already have blunt treading, replace them before winter to avoid aquaplaning.

In case you do aquaplane, lessen your accelerator and brake pedaling. Your speed will then decrease and the tire can regain contact with the road.

Do not drive into puddles or standing water. There are so many dangers such as your engine drowning, your suspension getting damaged, and your tires getting flat.

There’s Slush

You call a partially melted snow or ice slush. This is predominant when there is snow on the road and it unexpectedly rains.

Apply pressure to the pedals of your brake and gas together bit by bit and this will dry them. Do this often when you drive into slushes.

The Road Gets Flooded

The deepest part of the road will usually be around the curb. Since safety is our main goal, I would tell you not to cross if you are unsure about the depth of the water.

Of course, I acknowledge the fact that some of you would brave to cross it. Should you decide to do that, use the first gear.

The engine speed should, however, be maintained at a high rate so that you will not stall. You can do this by slipping the clutch.

Make sure that you check your brakes’ effectivity before risking yourself and your car. Do this by driving 50 km/hr and then hit your brakes abruptly. Check if:

  • It stops in a straight line
  • The brake feels firm
  • The brake are secure

There Are Strong Winds

Strong winds can establish menace to high-sided vehicles. If you are driving one, postpone driving. But if you are already on the road, you may wish to stop for a while and let the wind pass.

Both low and high-sided automobiles are instructed to steer away from bridges.

Defensive drivers know that they have to hold on the steering wheels with a firm grip.

  • If you are driving against the wind, you may just experience slight resistance as you drive. 
  • If the wind is coming from your rear end, on the contrary, you will experience a push while driving.

Blowing cars off the road is not impossible if the wind is coming from the lateral part of your auto (side winds). Smoothly steer back to your lane if you feel that you are being thrust.

Do not make sudden changes in direction because this can cause accidents.

It Starts To Snow


There’s Snow In The Way

Road snows can be described in different ways: some are smooth and soft, other can be rutted, and others can be hard-packed and very slippery.

Have you enjoyed 7-eleven’s Slurpee? Well, that’s fun and entertaining when you are drinking it but if the snow is wet and forms as slush, it will give you a headache (and you know I am not talking about brain freeze here). I am referring to tension headaches brought by stress.

Drive slowly so you can anticipate your next move. Try to steer away from ice if possible.

If you have no means of avoiding them, be careful and avoid turning your steering wheels abruptly. Heavy mush will definitely make your steering intricate.

When there is ice on the road, another concern for motorists would be the ice or water that other vehicles (more often than not trucks), can dispatch or spray towards your direction.

There are reported cases of accidents occurring as one driver tried to steer into another lane after losing sight of the road.

Since you have been warned, if slush sprays happen, drive even more slowly while staying in your lane and turn your windshield wipers on while squirting anti-freeze fluids.

Braking on ice even gets complicated because of the factors that surround it. Spinning could happen and this could be explained by physics: the centrifugal force can pull the car if it brakes on a curve.

Anticipate the need for braking and start shifting to a lower gear before the event.

There’s A Snow Plow

One should never pass a snow plow. Blue flashing lights indicate that a snow plow is at work.

Yes, this may cause heavy traffic but overtaking on a snow plow can cost your life. Snow plow poses concerns due to the following:

  • Size – although it may seem to be small and occupying only one lane, snow plows are wider and can occupy two to three lanes at a time.
  • Restricted visibility – an active snow plow can create light powdery snow that makes it hard for drivers to see clearly.
  • It does not have a permanent lane – in order to clear the road more effectively, a snow plow changes from one lane to another.

The Road Is Icy

Did you know that bridges, overpasses, and other shaded areas freeze faster and remains frozen longer?

Observe if the road is black and shinier than usual – that’s ice! Driving fast on top of surfaces like this will cause lost adhesive friction.

To prevent skidding, do not step on the brake. If you are using a car with manual transmission, shift to a lower gear, preferably neutral as you drive over the frost.

There’s A Winter Storm


There is a chance that you can get stranded when there’s winter storm. If this happens, here are your emergency reminders:

  1. Do not panic.
  2. Do not go out of your vehicle, it is much safer and warmer there. But please check your tailpipe; ensure that it is not obstructed at all.
  3. Call for help using your cell phone.
  4. Draw attention to your vehicle through road flares and lights.
  5. Keep yourself warm; run the engine and heater at a ratio of 10 minutes for 1 hour. Regularly move your hands and feet to avoid frostbite by increasing blood circulation.
  6. Do not let yourself inhale fumes. Open window away from the direction of the wind slightly to keep fresh air circulating.
  7. Use the door away from traffic if you must get out of the car.

There Is An Avalanche Forecast


There will always be a fear of avalanche or rapid falling of mass of snow, ice, and rocks from sides of a mountain when we drive in icy parts of the country and during winter.

Avalanches can be deadly in different ways. The impact of the falling debris can kill you, if not, people who are trapped in an avalanche are found dead because of suffocation or hypothermia.

It is not safe to travel alone in high-risk areas. Watch for warning signs and follow diligently.

If you are driving and an avalanche blocks the road, avoid with extreme caution especially in two-way roads. Conversely, many would advise against doing this.

Call for help if there is a complete obstruction. Drive to a safer area and stay inside your car.

If you have been warned primarily, do not be stubborn. There will be service crew fixing that in a few moments. It is better to sacrifice a few hours than to sacrifice your entire day or worse, your life.

Winter Maintenance Tools

The government is fully aware of winter driving concerns. Henceforth, winter maintenance tools have been made available to help motorists.

Anti-icing Systems

There are various forms of existing anti-icing systems in our country. There are anti-icing liquids that are used before winter storms happen.

This technique enables removal of snow to be easier. Another anti-icing system that we utilize would be automated, stationary structure used specifically for some bridges.

Salt and sand is a popular anti-icing agent. States that have winter season have truck-mounted digitally controlled salt or sand distributor.

Last but not least, we also have de-icing liquids which are administered over ice and snow to melt them faster.

Global Positioning System

The function of a global positioning system is countless.

On matters of winter driving, however, it allows concerned organizations to detect which areas need to be rescued as soon as possible and to help manage winter operations.


It is necessary to track down weather, road and traffic information to help agencies make decisions. Sensors then will serve as their eyes for assessment purposes.

Tow Plow

Traffic gets really heavy during winter as some lanes become unpassable. Tow plow makes another driving lane accessible for motorists.

Lastly, do not forget that the social media and other smartphone applications are there to keep us updated about what is happening to our community through the help of the World Wide Web. Be sure to stay connected.

Managing Ice

With Chemicals


We can deal with ice and snow by using substances that mimic anti-freeze formulations. Their job is to alter the bonds between ice and the pavement.

There are two common chemicals used: magnesium chloride and sodium chloride.

The Great Salt late produces salt compounds known as magnesium chloride.

This then is mixed with corrosion inhibitors and is used to get rid of snow buildup. The evaporation of sea water can be extracted and formed into sodium chloride, another chemical for snow-on-the-road reduction.

Use magnesium chloride if the temperature is 15 °F and below. Otherwise, use sodium chloride.

People are oftentimes hesitant to use chemicals because of the threats it puts forward to the health and environment. Proper application of these chlorides does not bring about negative effects on the environment (surface and ground water, and to your crops).

In spite of this, I highly suggest for you to wash your car if your ice maintenance crew rely on chlorides. Chlorides can cause filmy residue on your vehicle if left for a long period of time.

With Salt

The use of salt is still the most common method to manage ice and snow. It is practical as it is cheap and easy to use. The secret in managing ice with salt lies behind the proper timing and amount of salt being applied on the surface.

This should be done before any snow storm. The salt chemically disbands the molecule of snow preventing buildup. Since the bond is ineffective, removal of snow will be easier as it will not stick to the pavement.

There are two ways to apply the road salt. First is to scatter it along the motorway distributing it evenly and the second is to create narrow strips of salt in elevated areas of the highway.

In due course, these strips will transform into a salt-water mixture and since it is located on a high point of the road, it will then flow to lower area by means of gravity.

With Sand

The presence of the sand makes the highway rough, therefore creating traction.

This can be used together with salt, or it can be used as an alternative (since salt is ineffective during extremely low temperatures like -12 °C).

Sand is applied in dangerous locations like curves, intersections, and hills.

Although sand is already ‘natural’, it produces different sources of concerns from users.

  • First, sands can contribute to pollution as it gets crushed.
  • Second, sands can accumulate in water drainages and cause obstruction.
  • Third, your car can get tiny bits of damages, especially in the windshield as it flies from the wheels of other vehicles.

With Anti-icers And De-icers


If you think that salt is an effective way to remove ice, there are certain manufacturers that create preventive treatments from its compound in a liquid form.

They are known as de-icers or reactive winter road treatments.

They act as a freezing-point depressant. This is chosen as an ice or snow maintenance tool depending on precipitation rate and type, solar radiation exposure, the temperature of the air, hotness of dew point, and temperature of the road surface.

Maintenance crews would rely on reports from infrared sensors, satellite information, thermal maps, weather forecast, and weather radar data.

The preference of this method is increasing because it does not affect the road condition as much as sand and salts do.

It has no bad effects on bridge decks and environs. It has served many practical uses as well.

Busting Popular Winter Myths

Don’t Scrape The Ice On Top Of Car


The engine will not probably be affected, you might think, and yes, that is true in a way. But, if you allow yourself to drive with masses of snow on the roof of your car and on your hood, you might be causing problems in the long run.

First, when you stop all of a sudden the ice can slide down and accumulate in your windshield. You will surely have visibility problems then.

Next, if you again, had to step on the brake pedals quickly, your ice or snow can fly off to another vehicle. This can lead to major, even fatal, accident when the driver would steer away swiftly from one lane to another.

This may not happen, however, but prepare yourself for some wagging tongues and middle fingers from the affected driver.

Underinflate Your Tires During Winter


There is a prescribed pressure for your tires on every occasion. The concept of removing air from your tires during winter is based on the goal of improving the surface area that comes in contact with the road pavement.

It has also been said that decreasing the air on your tires will improve the depths of threads. Hence, more traction will be provided again.

In other areas, some drivers are even advised to do so. Deflating the tires as low as 10 PSI would be the recommendation.

It could be a fact if you are after traction. But this can be a dangerous myth if you will need to drive in highways because for one, flat tires will compromise handling.

Another hazard is that deflated tires can produce friction. Friction creates heat; too much heat can make your tires burst.

Idle The Car Before Driving In Cold Weather


Putting the car into an idle mode will make your vehicle warm and ready-to-go, yes.

Still, this can be expensive as it will consume fuel. Did you know that when you idle your engine for 1 hour, you actually use up as much as 4 liters? You could use that to drive 22-24 miles already depending on your car.

Apart from that, carbon emissions increase jeopardizing the health of the driver and passengers in the long run.

So, when the car is not in use, turn it off. Be practical and save your hard earned money.

Two-wheel Drive Are Not Safe During Winter


There are different types of wheel drive. We have two-wheel (either front or back), all-wheel drive, and four-wheel drive. Well, for the laymen, the difference between them is where the engine power is routed.

Front-wheelers are the cheapest and more space-saving. It gives perfect grip when you need to climb hills since the weight of the machine is directed towards the anterior side of the car.

Pickups and older SUVs are rear-wheelers. This is perfect for drivers who would be carrying extra heavy loads. Compared to FWD, RWDs balances the weight of the car but provides less traction.

The power of an all-wheel drive is distributed in all corners. As you accelerate, the traction on the wheels gets better making it perfect for sloppy road instances and when you are driving in terrains: mud, sand, and the likes.

The good thing here is that whenever there is a detected slippage in the axles of one of your wheels, there will be a diversion of power. The aim is to find where the traction is highest and eventually activate that wheel.

A four-wheel drive is most suitable for monster trucks and other vehicles that require crossing over boulders, crossing deep waters and driving over loose and low traction surfaces.

Going back to the statement above, you can be safe whichever type you are driving as long as you are knowledgeable in handling winter situations.

It is a plus, though, meaning you will have lesser stress when you have an all-wheel or four-wheel drive car.

Having a two-wheel drive can safely lead you to your destination as well; just make sure that your tires are suitable for the cold weather.

Use Your Parking Brake To Stop


This is a myth in so many ways.

Let us talk initially about the way on how you would use your parking brake. If you do this precipitously you will be contradicting the factors that could actually activate your anti-lock braking system.

If you rapidly pull the parking rate, it will decrease the stopping capacity of your vehicle and it can even snap as it is possible for it to freeze during extremely low temperatures.

The parking brake, however, can be of help when your foot brakes are not working properly. This works best for older models.

To use this, you have to pull and release it slowly repeatedly and you will notice that the speed of the car will start to be reduced.

It’s Safe To Overtake, Just Do It Slowly


I will not get tired repeating valuable information again and again: winter is not for the impatient. As much as possible, do not try to overtake.

But I would be a hypocrite if I say I never did that. I just did it with super-extreme caution remembering in mind that I should only do it in asphalt for more tension.

Although during summer we do not have problems overtaking; the dampness, glaze or presence of snow in the roadway will make this task treacherous.

Pour Hot Water To Your Windshield To Clear It Fast


Oh sure, do this! And wait for your windshield to crack in no time. Ever tried pouring hot coffee in a mug you left from the fridge?

They share the same concept. The sudden change in temperature (from freezing to boiling) will break the bond of your glass.

If you encounter this problem and you have time, use your ice scrapers.

If you are in a hurry, feel free to spray your de-icers or anti-freeze formulations (whether you did it by yourself or you got it from the market) to facilitate easy removal.

Use Vinegar To Prolong The Lifespan Of Your Wiper


A vinegar can be used in creating anti-freezing mixtures. I cannot see any logic or relationship with the lifespan of your wiper and vinegar nonetheless.

You might want to purchase rubbers to assist your wipers to remove ice better. But, if your wipers are not performing excellently as before, buy a new one.

The famous cliché “Spend some to save some” will apply here.

Wipers are relatively affordable and your windshield, well, not really. If you hesitate to buy new wipers and eventually damage your windshield, you will then me spending more money for repairs.

Turn On The Fog Lights When It Fogs, Rains And Snows


Fog lights are helpful when the visibility is very bad to zero. Using them when it fogs, rains and snow are unnecessary and may just cause confusion on other drivers.

Unfortunately, drivers from other localities are so used to doing this.

Since you already discovered that this is a myth, do your fellow drivers a favor and pass the information, please.

Frequently Asked Questions

I Have An RV, Is There Any Special Need For It During Winter?


A very good example of an oversized vehicle would be your motorhomes (RVs). Yes, you have to do all the winter car maintenance just like other vehicles, but you have to exert more effort and even money than them simply because you are driving a bigger car.

First, your vehicle has technically more tires compared to others. This means that you will have to shell out more dollars matched to others who only have 4. You can feel this burden when you replace them with snow tires.

Oversized cars are, more often than not, two-wheel drives. Please see abovementioned discussion about the differences between two, four and all-wheel drives to better understand my point of view.

Large vehicles handle road accidents differently. This is mainly because they can cause massive structural damages on the road. Next, rescuing oversized vehicle can get very complicated.

There are so many reported cases about rescuers being out of control. This is because the trailer they are trying to save would not cooperate.

This is not all negative do not worry. Remind yourself that because you are carrying an oversized vehicle, you have the benefit of added heaviness giving more traction for your car, somehow ensuring added safety.

It is good to drive and be able to carry your home anywhere with you. Even though that is the case, the weather can go against you and your car.

For example, the wind can blow you off your resting place. You might indeed be heavier but you should never underestimate how slippery your ground can be.

I Have Four-wheel / All-wheel Drive. Do I Need Chains?


A lot of people would claim that four-wheel or all-wheel drive is really useful during cold seasons of the year.

That is true for so many reasons but primarily it is because of the power of its traction. It does not, however, make your vehicle immune to catastrophes.

You have to take into consideration that there are still recorded cases of accidents even if the car is already an all-wheel or four-wheel drive.

In this case, you should bear in mind that although there is an added protection, the safety still primarily relies greatly on the person behind the wheels.

Chains are required for traction purposes. But because they can destroy the surface of the roadway, some states discourage its use.

Please remember that this may differ from one state to another. In some places, chains are actually prohibited.

In Washington state, however, they necessitate heavy vehicles (those that have a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000) to have chains. Chains will come handy on various types of car except the four-wheel and all-wheel drives.

Rear-wheel drive cars are requested to install tires at the back and in the same light, those who drive front-wheel drive vehicles should put it in the front two tires.

When you are driving with snow chains on, remember not to drive faster than 30 miles per hour or else you would soon be paying for repairs on the chain… and your car.

You also have to avoid stepping on the brakes all of a sudden. When starting, do not accelerate too fast, otherwise, you will start to twist and turn.

The precaution does not stop there because when you are about to stop, you have to ensure that you do not hit a curb and break your chains.

Chains are helpful but it can also ruin your tires. Always make sure that you remove them once you reach home and allow them to dry before storing them.

If this will not be done, expect rusts the next time you use them. Also, you always have to check if there are damages already especially if you have driven in asphalt.

Are There Any Alternative Traction Devices?

During winter, one of the most important factors that can save a life (or take one) is actually the traction between the tires and the surface of the road.

Traction can increase or decrease depending on the situation of the weather, the pavement and the tires of your car. There are different ways on how we can improve traction

What Should I Do If I Frequently Drive On Roads Where Chlorides Are Used?


Chlorides are not that harmful since it came from natural resources. It is normally used as an anti-freeze. It decreases the bond of the snow and the pavement so that removal of the snow can be facilitated with ease.

Chlorides are not damaging to the crops. Unlike sand, chlorides do not cause clogging of the sewage system and do not add to the air pollution. On the other hand, there are still negative effects of frequent exposure.

Technically speaking, as these chlorides get in contact with your car, there will be an accumulation of residues. These deposits can actually stain your car’s tint.

But you do not need to worry; there is still an answer to that. If you recurrently drive on a road where chlorides are normally used, all you have to do is to wash your car with water and soap to prevent buildups.

How Do These Ice Maintenance Techniques Affect The Environment, My Car, And Electrical Utilities?


I am happy because more and more people are getting concerned with their surroundings and this question is an evidence of that.

Many are hesitant to use chloride mixtures thinking that salt and sand are the better options because they are already a part of our geography. I am really sorry to burst your bubble but they are actually more harmful.

Sand and salt contribute to the air and water pollution. They can also damage car’s paint and your windshield.

Although liquid de-icers (and even anti-icers) can indeed cause residues, in the long run, this would not be the case if you wash your car with soap and water after winter weather storms.

I have seen a report from Colorado that says the mist from liquid ice management methods, however, can cause concerns. This is because they can be airborne and cover insulators. Insulators can be seen between electric conductors and poles.

If it covered enough area, the electricity can travel through wires towards the pole. This can be dangerous as the electricity can travel further and cause outages.

To prevent this, electrical companies should be vigilant in checking insulators and remove coatings.

Resources And Further Reading

Christina Powell

Hi everyone, My name is Christina Powell, chief editor at Wheel On Road. I have a passion for car when I was young. I Started this blog with my team and we share to people everything about automotive, car like how to drive car carefully, maintain a car and many other topics. Hope you will also share and track us. If you have any problem, you can contact us at:

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