Be Prepared for Safe Winter Driving
Tips for slowing down, stocking your vehicle, and putting safety first.
When the weather outside is frightful, driving can go from safe to dangerous in the blink of an eye. Add snow or ice to the mix, and even a trip to the grocery store can be downright hazardous. Keeping up with maintenance is important year-round, but especially when winter rolls around1. You’ll want to be sure your car is in tip-top condition. If your car is in excellent working order it’s less likely to break down, leave you stranded or fail to start in cold weather.
Battery and systems. Cold temperatures can decrease the power of your battery, according to the NHTSA. Make sure your battery is fully charged and give your vehicle a good once-over. Have your drive belts, voltage regulator, alternator/generator, ignition wires, distributor cap and spark plugs checked. Clean your headlights and replace any dim or burned-out bulbs. Your heating and cooling systems play an important role in winter driving, too. Check your antifreeze level and ask your mechanic to inspect your vehicle for leaks. Scheduling a tune-up and inspection at your local Toyota Service Center is a great idea. We’ll go over your vehicle with an expert eye for safety.
Tires and brakes. Keep your tires properly inflated and replace them if the tread has worn down. To determine if your tire tread is too worn, try the penny test: Insert a penny, head first, into several of the grooves on your tire. If you see the top of President Lincoln's head, the treads are too worn and it’s time to get new tires. If some of his head is covered by the tread, your tread level is deep enough. Snow tires, which have even deeper tread, are a great option – possibly a necessity – if you live in an area with heavy winter snows.
Winter kit. Stock your car with things you’ll need if you become stranded. Non-perishable food like granola bars, water, blankets, warm clothes, hand warmers, a flashlight, ice scraper, ice melt, small spade or shovel and a bag of kitty litter to use for traction are basic items that can be game-changers. Other useful items to stock are paper towels, jumper cables and warning flares or triangles. Keep your cell phone handy and fully charged.
Don’t drive if you don’t have to. When roads are hazardous, when weather is dangerous, the smartest thing you can do is take yourself out of the equation. Stay home, stay put and stay safe. But if you do have to travel, TFS offers multiple voluntary protection plans and service agreements that include 24/7 roadside assistance, dead battery jump starts and more.
Slow down. Driving at reduced speed can make it easier to stop, maintain traction and see what’s in front of you in a snowstorm. Gradual, cautious action is the name of the game. Apply the gas slowly. Apply your brakes slowly. Give yourself plenty of time when approaching a stop sign or signal. Remember, everything takes longer on icy roads. Accelerating must be done gradually to avoid spinning your wheels and possibly losing control. Slowing or stopping must also be done gradually to avoid skidding or sliding.
Your safety is important to your friends at TFS. We’re here to help you plan for winter-safe driving. Be sure to contact your local Toyota dealer for any questions you might have about vehicle safety and maintenance.
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