Winter conditions bring a host of hurdles that drivers must overcome. From poor traction to slippery ice, frosted windshields and mountains of snow, it can be difficult to navigate for several months. Though some regions experience much milder winters, others must deal with less-than-stellar road conditions for nearly half the year.
It's crucial that your car is protected from the elements and that you are equipped with the tools and knowledge to drive safely during winter. However, there are numerous driving tips out there that don't necessarily hold water. So instead of heeding the words of every myth you hear, make sure you're actually following safe driving practices.
Here are five winter driving myths that you should ignore:
1. You should reduce tire pressure
In some cases, lower tire pressure can, in fact, help. However, when driving over ice, less pressure won't do much. By deflating tires, cars gain traction, but that's only under optimal driving conditions when roads are free of debris, which is hardly ever the case in winter. Even when snow and ice melt, the leftover water can still pose a problem for your car's handling. So examine the roads in your area before making a decision to reduce tire pressure.
2. You don't need winter tires
You might think it's expensive to have a different set of tires for each season, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run if they help you avoid accidents. Winter tires are typically fitted with a stronger tread that provides greater traction. Further, the rubber itself is much more durable and optimized to handle cold weather better. These tires can be the difference between maintaining control of your vehicle or sliding across a patch of ice.
Though it may be an investment, it's a necessary one because winter tires are one of your best defenses against harsh elements.
3. You need to warm your car up
It's a common misconception that engines need to run a little before you head out in the morning. However, most people do this simply for the comfort of a heated car while driving. In most cars built in the last decade, electronic fuel injectors can start an engine in no time with the correct intake of air and fuel, thus voiding the need to rev your engine. Also, allowing your car to run for several minutes before driving will only burn fuel and cost you money. Warming your car does not improve performance in any way during winter.
4. You are safe with all-wheel drive
If you've got a heavier-duty vehicle with all-wheel drive, then you could be tempted to think you've got the perfect equipment to face winter. Though all-wheel drive can increase the strength of your engine and help you accelerate, during winter, added acceleration isn't much needed because drivers tend to go slower. Driving faster will also decrease the amount of time you have to stop, and when driving on ice, the added weight of all-wheel drive will actually make you less safe.
5. You should use hot water to clear a frozen window
When you wake up and see your windshield frozen over with a sheet of ice, pouring a bucket of hot water on the glass will not solve your visibility problems. Due to the drastic temperature change, the water could actually freeze again immediately or perhaps crack the glass of your windshield. Instead, using a de-icer the night before works much better.
Check your car insurance policy this winter before making any long journeys.
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