Prepare Your Car for Winter – Safe Winter Driving Tips

Last Updated on October 12, 2020

No matter what part of the country you live in, except for, perhaps, extreme southern areas, winter driving habits differ from those used in other times of the year. Even northern Florida has bridges that are prone to icing up on cold nights, creating what is commonly referred to as “black ice.” And the further north a person goes, the more hazardous the roadways become.

Some of the primary dangers of winter driving include:

  • Slippery Roadways
  • Blowing Snow
  • Freezing Temperatures
  • Slower Reactions
  • Inattentiveness

By preparing yourself for these obstacles, you can keep yourself safe, and save yourself from bills and headaches. Let’s take a look at how.

Safe Winter Driving

Preparing Your Car for Winter

Before you can even think about driving out there in the winter months, take your car in for maintenance before winter to ensure it’s running in top condition. Don’t forget to have your tires checked, including tread depth and air pressure. If you live in an area with heavy ice or snowfall during the winter, consider switching to winter-ready tires (snow tires) that improve your car’s stability with better traction on icy, slippery surfaces.

Prepare an emergency kit with tools and supplies that might prove useful in sticky situations. A snow shovel, scraper, tow chain, and flashlight are all good to have on hand, as is a bag of abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter that can be used to provide traction if you get stuck.

Check oil and antifreeze levels regularly during winter. Tires lose air pressure in cold climates (up to 1 PSI by each 10-degree drop in temperature) and should also be checked regularly, especially during freezes.

By doing all these things, you are essentially “winterizing” your car.  Winterizing your vehicle not only protects you and your family but can also help get you cheap car insurance! Who knew?  To recap, winterizing means:

  • Adding Snow Tires
  • Preparing an emergency kit
  • Keeping your vehicle in a garage to protect it from frost
  • Not leaving your car unattended
  • Having your breaks, oil, and antifreeze levels checked

By doing these things, you can save yourself from some headaches, and you can also get a cheaper auto insurance policy. But why does putting snow tires on your car help out your car insurance company? Insurance companies decide how much your premium should be based on how high of a risk you are. If you take precautions to make your car safer, you are less of a risk. This, in turn, makes you eligible for cheaper car insurance rates. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Safe Driving Tips for the Winter Season

Driving safely in winter relies on a combination of preparation and careful driving—stay safe with these quick tips.

Slippery Roadways

If you live in an area where snow and ice accumulate, roadways can be extremely treacherous. It is important to remember that your vehicle is not going to be able to stop as quickly. More than that, simply steering your car is going to work a little differently, as your tires fight for traction to make the turns. Remember that when your car begins to slide to remove your foot from the accelerator, but avoid hitting the brakes. Applying brakes suddenly is the most common way to send your vehicle into an uncontrolled slide.

Blowing Snow

Falling sleet or snow can reduce vision to near zero in an instant. the nature of frozen water causes it to reflect light in different directions, which means visibility is not as dependable. When you must drive under such conditions, plan ahead, and give yourself extra time to reach your destination, and then drive slower to get there. The choice between arriving late and never arriving at all is not a difficult decision.

Freezing Temperatures

Freezing temperatures are more likely to cause equipment failure. Materials react to freezing temperatures in many different ways, but very few materials perform better in low temperatures. Inspect your car’s equipment often and carefully, with a mindful eye on components that are sticking, or not working at all. Take the time to remove the ice from your windows and windshields, don’t just make a hole that you can barely see out of.

Slower Reactions

People, like equipment, react to cold temperatures in a negative way. Reaction times are longer, and wearing cumbersome clothing makes reacting more difficult to accomplish. Since you can’t avoid this from happening, the only recourse is to plan for it and allow yourself more distance from the other vehicles on the road to avoid having to react as quickly as you normally would.


Even if you are the most careful driver in the world, there is no certainty that the other people around you on the roads are the same. Watch for people who change lanes for no reason, or cars that slide through intersections. A vast majority of auto accidents can be avoided in every season by being as attentive as possible. don’t try to drive when you are exhausted, and take as many precautions as possible to make the experience safe not only for yourself but for the other people you must share the roads with.

Most Important Things to Remember About Driving in the Winter

Driving in hazardous weather requires extra caution.

  • Check your tire traction when entering potentially hazardous roads by slowing down and applying your brakes
  • Drive slowly, and increase your following distance to four or five seconds
  • Apply slow, constant pressure instead of pumping the brakes

Auto Insurance for the Winter

Auto accident rates increase in winter, and that means your insurance premiums may rise too. There are a few ways you can reduce the financial burden that winter places on your insurance rates.

  • If you have teenagers on your policy, consider removing them during winter.
  • Premiums are often bumped up due to the habit many people have of warming up their car engines in the winter. Fitting devices such as steering wheel locks and vehicle trackers will increase your car’s security and lower your insurance.
  • “Winterize” your vehicle using the advice we gave above.  Maybe you can take advantage of some “cool” winter discounts.
James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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