I will be the first to admit that before working for a dealership, I never winterized my car. It’s Texas. How bad can it really get, right? While we don’t have to worry about physically digging vehicles out of snow, there are some very real winter driving tips even we Texans should pay attention to in order to stay safe this winter.
By Chelsea Bancroft, Sponsored content, Photo courtesy of Linnea Kay Photography
Most news outlets will have major-road condition updates on their websites, but one of the best ways to stay informed is through the Texas Department of Transportation’s drivetexas.org website and the TXDOT Austin Twitter account. (It’s also great for traffic and accident updates anytime of year.) Be informed before you hit the road.
Prepare your vehicle for winter.
Luckily, in Austin, we don’t have to do anything drastic like change out our normal tires for snow tires to prepare our vehicles for winter. But there are several things you should check when heading into colder months: tire pressure and tread life, battery strength, antifreeze and windshield-wiper fluid levels, filters, etc.
Slow down and keep a greater distance.
Yes, there’s the running joke that the moment one drop of rain falls, every car in Austin slows down, but it might not be such a bad idea. It takes nearly twice as long to brake on slippery roads, so slow down and increase the distance between your car and the car in front of you when driving in wet, wintery conditions, and never use cruise control.
Know when to steer versus brake.
In winter conditions, knowing when to brake or steer to avoid a crash can make a big difference in the outcome. In slick conditions, AAA Texas recommends steering away (when safely possible) instead of braking to avoid a crash when traveling at speeds faster than 25 mph. If the road is slick, braking abruptly can actually cause you to have less control of your vehicle.
Keep your car’s gas tank at least half full.
We don’t have to worry about major freezes often, but it’s a good idea to keep your car’s gas tank at least half full during colder months to prevent the gas line from freezing up.
Update your car emergency kit.
You should always keep an emergency kit in your car. During winter months, it’s smart to add these items to it too: ice scraper, matches, blanket/jacket, water bottles, snacks.
Be careful when warming up your vehicle.
Never leave the keys in your car while waiting for it to warm up. It’s not fun to sit and wait in the cold, but it would be even worse to have your car stolen because you left the keys in the vehicle with it running. Most importantly, never warm up your car in a closed garage. Doing this traps carbon monoxide in your home and can be deadly.
Crank up those seat warmers.
There is no special safety reason to do this, but it keeps your buns nice and warm. If you don’t have this feature in your car, check out websites like amazon.com that sell heated seat cushions for about $30 that plug right into the cigarette lighter. You’re welcome! I hope these tips keep you safe and warm on the roads all winter long. Please don’t hesitate to reach out should you have any questions.
Chelsea Bancroft is the strategic-partnerships and social-media manager at Roger Beasley Mazda and a blogger at onechelofanadventure.com.