It’s hard to believe, but winter is here again, and that can make driving more dangerous. Even seasoned drivers on the snowy highways and back roads of Nevada need to make sure their vehicles are in the best possible condition to deal with winter weather.
In Northern Nevada, snow brings people from around the globe for world-class skiing and winter sports. In Southern Nevada, desert dwellers visit Mount Charleston for sledding, skiing and snowball fights. But all that snow brings headaches, too. School cancellations, slips and slides, fender benders in the parking lot, skids, dings, dents, and wear and tear on your automobile.
Winter Driving Tips Everybody Needs to Know
Sure, you’ve driven in snow before, but has your teen-aged daughter? And even if 12 inches of powder doesn’t faze you, a sharp turn down the mountain can send you into a spin with no control of your car.
You may know some of these winter driving tips, but it may be time to revisit them.
Watch the weather reports. Most of us can get weather updates 24/7/365. Before you head off to work, or off to the closest ski slope, check the weather report. Bad weather ahead? Maybe it’s a good day to stay in.
Inflate your tires and don’t mix and match. Add air to the proper PSI level printed on the side of your tire. Also, don’t mix radial tires and conventional tires on the same car. They drive differently – in snow or otherwise.
Don’t warm up the car in the closed garage. Every year there are tragic stories of people who warm up their cars, fill the home with toxic carbon monoxide, with terrible outcomes. Be smart. Warm your car outside in a well-ventilated area and breathe easily.
Turn off cruise control. You love it in the summer on long stretches of Nevada highway, but turn off your car’s cruise control during the winter and focus on driving in winter conditions. Snow, ice, sleet, hail – we get them all here in Nevada and you need to drive, not put your car on auto-pilot. Pay attention to the road and weather conditions.
Don’t let the gas tank drain below half full. It gets cold in Nevada’s beautiful mountains and high country. A gas line freeze-up can keep you stuck inside waiting for a tow to the dealership. Keep your gas tank at least one-half full.
Get a tune up. If it’s been a while since your car’s had a tune up, there’s no better time than now – when the flakes start to fall. Winter driving puts a beating on any vehicle. Get your car tuned-up and winterized. Put on the snow tires. Be ready for the worst with a well-running car.
Put the tire chains in the trunk. You never know when the BIG SNOW is going to hit our state’s mountainous regions, so carry tire chains in the trunk for those big snowfalls. If you don’t know how to put on tire chains, get someone to teach you. Then, teach the other members of the family. When it’s snowing five inches an hour, tire chains can get you back home safely, but only if you have them with you.
Check the battery and carry jumper cables. If you lose juice, you’re stuck. A new, charged battery will keep you going.
Replace windshield wipers. Now’s the time to replace wiper blades, not when a snow storm is headed your way. Also, keep your windshield washer reservoir full and carry an extra jug of washer fluid in the trunk. If your windshield is dirty, you increase the chance you won’t see danger ahead.
Carry a few bags of sand or kitty litter. The extra weight helps rear-wheel drive cars get traction, and spreading sand or kitty litter on snow and ice will give you the traction you need to get home safely.
Before leaving, clean off the car entirely. Scrape the windshield so it’s free of ice and snow. Side windows, back window, roof – when you pull out of the driveway you shouldn’t be carrying a pile of snow with you. Hey, it’s winter out there!
You need an emergency kit. It should include a cell phone with emergency numbers programmed in before you leave home. Also pack a plastic bin with blankets, gloves, warm hats, water, high-protein food and any needed medicines you or one of your passengers might need.
A first-aid kit is always a good idea. Bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, tape and other first aid basics should be packed where you can get them in an emergency.
If you skid off the road, clear the exhaust pipe. If the exhaust pipe is packed with snow, carbon monoxide will creep into the car. Check it before starting the engine.
If you skid off the road during a storm, stay with your car. Your car provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to see you down an embankment. Also, tie a brightly colored cloth to the roof rack, antenna, or stick it out a window. The objective is to be seen – and the sooner the better.
Don’t drive like you do in July. Slow down. Accelerate and decelerate slowly by tapping the brake pedal. Don’t slam on the brakes. Don’t gun the motor.
Don’t try to power up a hillside. Veteran winter drivers know that slow and steady gets you to the top of the hill. Floor the accelerator and you’re just spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.
If possible, avoid stopping while going up a hill. It’s a lot easier to keep a moving car moving forward than moving a car up a hill from a dead stop. Once you start up that hill, keep climbing if possible to avoid getting stuck half-way up (and half-way down).
Respect the weather. Listen to forecasts. Don’t drive in snowstorms if you can avoid it. Keep your eyes peeled for patches of black ice on cold rainy nights.
Are you ready for a visit from the snow man?
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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