We’ve officially entered the winter season, which means it’s time to shift into winter driving mode. To stay safe on the roads, there are a few tasks to take care of and driving practices to keep in mind this season.

A Quick Winter Checklist for Your Car:

Replace your windshield wipers and make sure your windshield wiper fluid is topped off. When the roads get slushy and dirty, that gets thrown back onto your windshield, and you need to clear it off to drive safely.

When there’s frost or ice on your windshield, be sure to clear it off before you start driving. Failing to do that can cause an accident when you don’t have a clear vision of the road and the cars around you. If your defroster isn’t working right, then take it into a service shop to get it checked out. (We can always recommend one if you are in the Eastern Twin Cities metro area.)

Evaluate your brakes as you use them. Is there a grinding sound when you push down? Does it take too much pressure to get to a full stop? If so, they should get checked out as well.

Your tires are one of your first lines of defense when braking. Check your tires with the penny test to make sure there’s adequate tread. Place a penny heads down into the tread at the top of the tire. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, then your tread is too low to have proper traction on roads. Repeat the test around other grooves of the tire to see how it wore down—if some areas have more tread that others, then that means you need to pay more attention to your tire’s pressure and alignment to avoid uneven wear in the future.

Safe Driving Practices to Implement:

Keeping a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you is one of the best ways to avoid an accident in bad weather. Typically, the following distance should be about 3 seconds, but that should be increased to 5 – 8 seconds depending on the road conditions.

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads, and when going from a full stop to moving, start slowly to avoid spinning tires that get you stuck. If you come to a tall hill, don’t power up it—instead, try to get some inertia going before you get to the hill so that can carry you to the top.

If you hit black ice, don’t press on your brakes. Keep the steering wheel straight so you don’t spin out, and ease up on the gas. There’s not much else you can do except let your vehicle coast through the patch onto a part of the road with traction. 

If you do have an unfortunate car accident this winter, then bring your car into a trusted auto body shop to help ease some of the stress. Crossroads Collision is located in Lake Elmo, MN, and we will arrange towing, set you up with a loaner car, help with insurance, and expertly fix your vehicle so it’s good as new.