The weather outside will be frightful for your evening commute, but that doesn’t mean the trip can’t still be delightful.
Follow these tips from AAA Michigan to make sure you’re ready for the inclement weather that reared its head Tuesday for the first time this season in metro Detroit. And stay ready: It could be worse tomorrow, with the first snow expected.
AAA’s tips include:
•Before starting out in snowy weather, take time to remove the snow from the entire car so it doesn’t blow onto your windshield or the windshields of other drivers. Make sure your mirrors and lights are clean as well.
•Drive with your low-beam headlights illuminated.
•When the roads are icy, slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination. Even better, delay your trip, stop early for the day, or take an extended break from driving.
•Allow sufficient room for maintenance vehicles and plows, stay at least 15 car lengths (200 feet) back and, if you need to pass, go to the other vehicle’s left.
•Watch for icy surfaces on bridges, even when the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
•If you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheel and accelerate slowly. Add sand or cat litter under the drive wheels to help avoid spinning the tires.
•If your tires lose traction, continue to look and steer in the direction you want to go. If the drive wheels start to spin or slide while going up a hill, ease off the accelerator slightly and then gently resume speed.
•Look farther ahead in traffic. Actions by other drivers will alert you to problems and give you extra seconds to react.
•When changing lanes, avoid cutting in front of trucks, which need more time and distance than passenger vehicles to stop.
•Don’t use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.
•Remember that four-wheel drive helps you to get going quicker, but it won’t help you stop any faster.
•Apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal with anti-lock brakes.
Before you leave:
• Have the battery and charging system tested. A fully charged battery in good condition is required to start an engine in cold weather.
• Have the brakes checked to ensure they work properly and apply smoothly, which helps prevent the wheels from locking on slick surfaces.
• Make sure the tires are properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can be dangerous, and may suffer damage. Remember, the air pressure in your tires will decrease 1-2 psi for every 10 degree drop in outside temperature.
• Use the tire size recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer for best snow traction. Overly wide tires tend to float on top of the snow, reducing grip.
• Make sure the engine coolant provides anti-freeze protection down to the lowest temperatures you are likely to encounter; -30oF/-34oC is a good guideline.
• Visibility is critical in adverse weather conditions, so replace worn windshield wipers that streak, and be sure the washer reservoir is filled with a winter solvent that will not freeze.
• Keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to minimize condensation buildup that can lead to gas line freeze-up. If the fuel in your area does not already contain alcohol, use a gas line “dryer” additive periodically to absorb moisture.
• Carry a winter driving kit for use in the event of an emergency. The kit should include a small bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter), a small snow shovel, a snow brush, traction mats, a flashlight with new batteries, window washer solvent, an ice scraper, a cloth or roll of paper towels, jumper cables, a blanket, warning devices (flares or triangles), drinking water and extra clothes.
• Carry a cellular phone and car charger. Program the phone with important numbers including a reliable roadside service provider that will be able to assist you during inclement weather if you have signed up in advance, such as AAA emergency road service. Call 800-AAA-MICH or 1-800-222-6424.