If you’re living out your Hallmark Channel Christmas fantasy this year by traveling to a small town in New England, renting a snowy cabin in the mountains for the new year or just hitting the road to see friends and family over the next few months, there’s a strong chance you could encounter some atypical winter weather wherever your road trip takes you. Last year, unusual temperatures and snowfall patterns brought snow to more than 70% of the country, and AccuWeather predicts a similarly white winter for Americans again this year. Before hitting the road for any considerable drives, prepare for winter’s worst with these important tips from Michelin for both your vehicle and your driving.
For your vehicle
Prep your windshield
It’s a good idea to check your wipers regularly anyway, but you’ll definitely want undamaged blades for quick clearing if you encounter snow on the road, so give them a solid check before your trip. For extra preparedness, consider winter-ready wipers specifically designed for the season. Either way, be sure your wiper fluid tank is filled with an antifreeze solution to keep your view clear while driving.
Check your battery
You don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery in bitter temperatures, so have your battery checked by a professional before heading out for a winter getaway. Freezing temperatures significantly decrease battery performance, so you’ll want to know yours is in tip-top shape for your journey.
Check your lights
Heavy snow affects both your visibility and other drivers’ ability to see you on the road, so check both your headlights and taillights to be certain you’re maximizing your ability to drive safely and give others ample warning of your presence.
Update your emergency kit
You should already have an emergency kit in your car for unexpected breakdowns and injuries, but winter requires a few updates that may not always be in there. Stock your seasonal kit with gloves and blankets for temperature protection and a shovel for potential snow digging or ice chipping. Also, double check that your kit has the flares, batteries and water it should have year-round, and consider packing an extra cell phone charger.
Check your tires
Take it from the experts at Michelin, who say that “brakes stop your wheels, but tires stop your car.” Check your tire pressure and tread for peak road safety (something they recommend you do monthly, regardless), and consider specialty tires if you live in more extreme climates or if you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in wintry conditions. The Michelin X-Ice SNOW, designed for maximum grip in snowy and icy conditions, is recommended for anyone who lives with temperatures regularly dipping below freezing, stopping up to ten feet shorter than competitor tires and lasting a season longer. The Michelin CrossClimate2 offers top performance in both wet and dry conditions for those living (or visiting) areas with fluctuating winter weather.
For your driving
Reduce the risk of losing control while turning by decreasing speed while still traveling in a straight line before beginning a turn. Once turning, maintain a slow and steady pace without sudden changes in speed or direction that cause tires to lose traction. Regain speed slowly as you complete the turn.
Leave more space
This one’s pretty simple: just leave plenty more space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. You may need more time to break if you hit black ice, if the vehicle in front of you loses control or if something unexpected falls into your path.
No sudden stops
To keep your tires where you want them, avoid sudden stops whenever possible, and try not to turn the steering wheel while braking (see above: leave more space!).