7 Safe Winter Driving Tips From Da-Les Auto Body Inc.
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With winter around the corner, families are starting to plan their outdoor recreation and looking to the mountains, such as the Lake Tahoe area, for skiing, sledding and other activities. Winter can be a fun and enjoyable time, but accumulating snowfall, freeze and thaw cycles and cold temperatures result in potentially dangerous driving conditions. We at Da-Les Auto Body enjoy our winter sports as much as you do, and we want to make sure our friends drive safely when seeking out snowbound recreation. With that in mind, here are ten tips to help you and your family make the most of your winter driving!
1. Watch the weather.
Most experts recommend not driving at all in winter conditions if you don’t absolutely have to. However, if you must drive, be sure you know what the weather’s like on your route and what delays, road closures and accidents are being reported. Keep your radio on low enough that it won’t distract you but loud enough that you can hear warnings and bulletins. Always err on the side of caution and stay home if conditions become too severe; losing a steep deposit on your ski lodge may hurt your wallet, but not as much as a car repair bill.
2. Make sure your vehicle is ready.
Clean headlights and taillights, properly aligned tires and good brakes may mean the difference between a safe, fun adventure and a nightmarish ordeal. Having your vehicle inspected for safety issues can keep your vehicle in safe running condition and make you more visible to emergency responders if an accident does occur.
3. Don’t mix tires.
Many people try to use winter tires on their drive wheels and all-year or radial tires on the non-driving tires. This is dangerous because it affects the tread profile of both kinds of tires, causing them to wear unevenly and not work as well at stopping your vehicle. For people who go to Lake Tahoe or the mountains once in a while, basic all-weather tires usually do just fine. For those who live or work in the mountains on a regular basis, good winter tires are essential equipment. Make sure all your tires are the same to prevent stopping problems.
4. 4WD can’t take care of everything.
A lot of people whose vehicles are equipped with four-wheel drive get a false sense of confidence about what their vehicles can and cannot cope with. While 4WD is excellent for allowing you to get moving and keep moving in snow, mud and other tough driving conditions, it does not make your vehicle corner better. Many drivers learn this the hard way, by incorrectly assuming the 4WD also allows them to take corners at normal driving speeds. While 4WD can get you out of a lot of otherwise difficult or impossible situations, it is important to remember that you need to match your speed to weather and road conditions and to think a little further ahead than you otherwise might.
5. Don’t use the cruise.
Cruise control is great for dry, clean roads without obstructions, but can actually be very dangerous in icy, slippery or snowy driving conditions. Cruise control only keeps your vehicle moving forward at a constant speed; it is not an autopilot and it cannot adjust for sudden changes in the road.
6. Tread carefully.
Your tire tread may not seem like a big deal, but 1/32 of an inch might be your only safety margin in case of hazardous road conditions. Deeper tread allows for better traction, stability and road-gripping power, which are all crucial factors in driving safely in winter weather. Having the correct tire pressure will help you out in several ways. Longer tire life, improved traction, and better gas mileage are all benefits of proper tire inflation.
7. Keep your eyes open.
Dirty windshields, headlights and taillights can make your vehicle the next best thing to invisible in poor weather, and can also reduce your ability to avoid road hazards such as plows, salt and sand trucks and other vehicles. Having good wipers and cleaning your running lights regularly lets you see better and lets others see you as well.
Skidding, fishtailing and hydroplaning can all occur because of a loss of traction or contact with the road. If you find yourself in a skid, let off the gas slowly and do not hit your brakes! Turn into the skid and aim for a safe place to stop. Even ramming a snowbank is better than going off the side of a mountain.
Being ready for poor road conditions could mean the difference between arriving safely at your destination and a serious mishap along the way. For your safety and that of the people around you, let us check your vehicle and make sure you and your car are set for whatever the winter may throw at you!