Winter Driving 101

While a winter’s fresh snow can look beautiful from your window, it’s not always quite so pretty when eyeing it through the windshield as you attempt to get to work. We’ve turned to AAA for some pro-active advice on how to prepare yourself for winter driving.

Yes, the stuff can be sprinkled in the pathway of your tires to improve traction. “But it must be the non-clumping variety,” cautions Robert Sinclair, spokesperson for AAA New York. “Otherwise, when the moisture hits the clumping-style litter, it just balls up and does no good.”

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A flat tire is a drag (no pun intended), but even more so if you have to change it in several inches of snow and slush. For that reason, Sinclair recommends keeping a brick or a block of wood in your trunk. “Or preferably both,” he says. “The brick can be used to chock the wheels when jacking up the vehicle. The wood, something like a one-by-six or two-by-six, can be used to put the jack on in case you’ve gotten a flat and wind up on soft ground.”

Actually, two. “A vehicle is about ninety-percent metal, and if the engine couldn’t run due to a breakdown in the cold and you have no heat, the interior would reach outside air temperature pretty quickly,” warns Sinclair. While the second blanket can keep your passenger warm it has an additional, preventive purpose. “Throw it over the windshield before a snow storm. In the morning all you have to do to clear the windshield is pull the blanket away.”

“Being able to make a fire could become crucial for staying warm and perhaps making a signal for rescuers.”

“Don’t believe the myth that all-season radials are good in snow,” Sinclair cautions. “They should really be named three-season radials, because in snow deeper than an inch, all-season radials don’t do much good. A dedicated radial snow tire not only has the necessary tread pattern that bites into snow for greater traction, but is made from a different rubber compound that is softer in cold temperatures that allows for greater pliability, road contact, and traction in snow and ice.” If you don’t have snow tires, “let some air out of the tires,” advises Sinclair. “This allows more tire to contact the road, increasing traction slightly.”

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