Winter Driving Safety Tips: Prepare Your Vehicle

Winter Driving Safety Tips
Driving in the winter can be treacherous so it is crucial to take the necessary precautions to stay safe. Snow, rain, ice, and fog can cause roads to be slippery or make it difficult to see. Avoid a potential disaster by brushing up on these winter driving safety tips.


Before starting your engine, complete these vehicle checks:

Turn the defrost setting on high for your windshield and rear window – This helps clear any snow or ice that may have formed while your vehicle was parked. The heat from the defrost setting makes brushing and scraping snow and ice off your automobile easier. Clean windows provide you with a clear vision of the road.

Get rid of snow and ice – Use a snow brush to remove snow from your roof, hood, and any other parts of your vehicle. This prevents snow from falling back on your vehicle and impeding your vision while driving. Use an ice scraper on all the glass so you can have a clear view of the roads, traffic, and pedestrians.

Make sure you have enough gas to get you to your destination – You don’t want to get stranded on the road. It is important to keep your fuel level above a quarter tank. A near-empty tank can be susceptible to moisture and cause frozen fuel lines or damage to the system.

Ensure you have enough windshield washer fluid – Running out of windshield washer fluid in the middle of a mucky winter day can cause you to lose visibility.

Stock your vehicle with emergency necessities – A first aid kit, water, blanket, gloves, shovel, and cell phone are all good things to keep in your vehicle. If you ever get stranded on or off the road, these will help you stay safe until help arrives.


Your vehicle should have a regularly scheduled service inspection. It is a good idea to get your automobile checked by professionals. Maintenance of your vehicle should be completed at different intervals, depending on how often you drive.

Monthly Checks

Tire Inspection – It is essential to examine your vehicle’s tire pressure and tread regularly. Proper pressure prevents tire damage or a sudden blowout. Good tread gives you better maneuverability and grip on the roads. Most vehicles’ tire pressure should be between 32-35 psi (pounds per square inch) but check your owner’s manual for the exact psi as it varies from vehicle to vehicle. You can test the tread depth by inserting a toonie into the tread and if it reaches the bear’s paw but not into the silver portion, the tread is sufficient.

Oil and Coolant Levels – Costly engine problems can occur due to low oil or coolant levels. Make sure the oil on your dipstick comes out clean otherwise you likely need an oil change. Coolant levels should be monitored to prevent your engine from overheating.

3 Month Checks

Checking Belts and Hoses – If a belt on your vehicle goes you could lose the power steering or the ability for the alternator to recharge the battery. Hoses are part of your vehicle’s cooling system and when cracked, frayed, or broken your vehicle may overheat.

Battery and Cable Maintenance– An issue with your battery or connecting cables could prevent your vehicle from starting or maintaining a proper charge. When corrosion starts to occur on your battery or cables become loose, you may need to replace them. A fully charged battery should read 12.6 volts or higher. Make sure the cables are securely connected to prevent discharge or poor transfer of electrical power.

Annual Checks

Changing Cabin and Engine Filters – When your cabin filter gets clogged it can result in little to no defrosting. A dirty cabin filter reduces the quality of air flowing through the heating and air conditioning vents. Weird noises coming from your climate control system mean it is time for vehicle maintenance. A clogged engine filter will affect the performance of your vehicle since the engine will have to work harder to push air through. If you do not see light passing through your air filter when it is removed, it is time to replace it.

Spark Plug Replacement – Your engine may not start if you have bad spark plugs. If your vehicle struggles to gain speed or starting the engine is difficult, then check to see if the spark plugs need replacing.

Avoiding a Collision

While driving, take these steps to help avoid an accident:

Avoid Cruise Control – When the roads are slippery you want to be in control of your vehicle as much as possible. Avoid using cruise control because it increases the chance of hydroplaning due to the consistent speed. Bad weather calls for slowing down.

Enhance Following Distance – When you are following a vehicle it is best to add time to the regular three-second count rule. This increases the space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If you need to stop suddenly there is less chance of a rear-end crash.

Reduce Speed – Slow down while driving over bridges and on corners as these areas can be extra icy during the winter months. Reducing speed helps your vehicle keep traction so you can stay in control.

Safety Tips

Get to know your vehicle as if it is a new friend. You should know your automobile inside and out, so you remain safe no matter what the weather throws at you.

You should be prepared for anything during every season but especially in the winter. Perhaps you need a new vehicle to make winter driving a lot safer and more enjoyable. At Fairley & Stevens Ford, we have plenty of vehicles to choose from.

Whether you have a new or used vehicle, regular inspections will help keep you safe on the road. Ask us which car, truck, or SUV we recommend for your safety.