Winter driving in Canada can be a daunting task. Slush, black ice, reduced visibility and cold engine starts make for uncomfortable driving experiences. Hansma Automotive is committed to your safety while on the road. Here are several tips that can greatly increase comfort and safety while driving in the winter.
1. Winter Tires are Mandatory
Studies have shown that winter tires are extremely effective. The TIRF report (a study that looked into the efficiency of winter tires among other things) states there is a, "dramatic improvement in driver control and traction," when driving on winter tires. Winter tires offer vastly superior treads for cutting through slush and snow and finding pavement to grip. They also provide better grip on ice, which means shorter stopping distances, and less sliding around. If you drive at all in the winter, a good set of winter tires should be the first thing you purchase.
2. Start Your Engine a Few Minutes Early to Save Gas and Increase Comfort
We've written several articles on increasing your fuel efficiency. Letting your engine run for a few minutes before a winter drive can greatly increase your vehicle's fuel efficiency. For the first little bit while your engine is warming up, it has to work much harder to create power. This is because fluids are cold and don't flow well. This effect is compounded in the winter when cold temperatures further bog down the flow of fluids in your vehicle.
Allowing the engine to warm up for a few minutes lets it not only warm the inside of the car, but also the engine, increasing efficiency. Letting it warm up for a few minutes is also beneficial for the overall long term health of your engine.
3. Simply Ease off of the Gas When a Slippery Section is Imminent
When you suddenly realize that there is a slippery section immediately in front of your vehicle, and you do not have time to slow down significantly, the best course of action is simply to ease off of the gas and let the car coast through. Your first instinct will be to brake, but this can break the small friction that does exist between the tires and the road. When you start slipping, it is much harder to regain control.
Do not brake/throttle heavily, or make sharp/quick turns. Simply guide the vehicle with your steering wheel.
4. Keep Emergency Supplies in Your Vehicle
Oftentimes we do not dress appropriately for the temperature during winter, as we assume we will not be in the cold for long. This is true the majority of the time, but dead batteries, and other car problems can occur more frequently in winter. Do not let a simple dead battery put you in a potentially dangerous situation of freezing. Always carry at minimum a blanket in the trunk of your car. It is also a good idea to have a candle or other small heat source just in case.