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It comes as no surprise that the top three claims we see during the winter are weather-related. When road conditions change, drivers face new challenges.


1. Prepare your vehicle

  • Check your tires.  If your tires are worn out, consider replacing them. If you live in an area that is impacted by snow, you may want to invest in a good set of snow tires. Learn more: The best time to buy tires for winter on Consumer Reports.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full. Condensation can form on the inside wall of your empty gas tank. As temperatures drop at night, the condensation turns to ice. Ice can crack your tank. Plus, as temperatures return to normal during the day, the ice can melt and drip down into your low gas supply. If water finds its way into your fuel lines, that can lead to costly repairs. Learn more: Car winterizing tips on How Stuff Works.
  • Clear off your car completely.  It’s not enough to clear one small section of the windshield, you need to clear the entire vehicle. Have you ever driven behind someone that did not clear off the top of their car? It’s very dangerous; snow blows off of their roof and compromises your vision and your grip on the road. Some states issue fines for drivers that fail to clear the top of the car and the license plate.  Do not lift your windshield wipers up before an impending snowstorm. Strong winds, hail and ice can break the wiper and even crack your windshield. It’s better to leave those wipers safely tucked down and use your defrosters in the morning. Learn more: Not clearing the snow off your car could cost you on NPR.

2. Prepare for the worst

  • You can make your own emergency kit. Some of the items you may already have around the house: flashlight, batteries, blanket, bottled water, matches, candles, snacks, sand or litter, etc. Learn more: emergency kit checklist 
  • Charge your cell phone and call a friend. Leave the house with a full battery in case you end up stranded and need to call for help. It’s good to let a friend know where you are going and when you should arrive, in case you end up stranded with no cell reception. You should never operate a mobile device while driving, especially in icy conditions.
  • Have a plan in case you break down. Who do you call? Make sure you have some emergency contact numbers memorized or written down, in case you skipped the last tip and forgot to charge your phone! Do you know how to use everything in your kit? Make sure you know how to change a flat or jump-start a cold battery. If you’re stranded, you can run the heat for about 10 minutes out of every hour, but make sure your exhaust is clear of snow. If you don’t clear your exhaust pipe, harmful smoke and chemicals can back up in the car.

3. Prepare your mindset

  • Stay alert. Look out for emergency vehicles and plows, they have limited visibility and can cause damage if you get too close. Do not use cruise control in the snow, it reduces your ability to slow down and react. Learn more: 5 rules to follow if you have to drive in the snow from Business Insider.
  • Go slow. Especially on bridges and overpasses, as they tend to freeze first. The faster you are moving, the less control you have over the road. Don’t let the person behind you pressure you into moving faster. Go at your own pace even if others are passing you. If you begin to skid, take your foot off of the accelerator and steer into the motion to regain control.
  • Brake early. Give yourself extra space between you and other vehicles. It takes a longer distance to stop when the roads are slick. Accelerate and apply your brakes very slowly, do not slam on the pedals. Try not to come to a complete stop on a hill, this can cause you to roll backwards if you land on ice. Learn more: how to break safely in winter weather from Wagner Brakes.

Author: Information courtesy of our partners at MetLife Auto & Home

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