Ice or snow on the roads can make for dangerous driving conditions, especially in areas like Lynchburg, Forest, and Madison Heights where we have windy roads and hills everywhere. Here are some safety tips for driving in the snow and ice…assuming you have too!
Driving safely on icy roads
Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
Keep your lights and windshield clean.
Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
If your rear wheels skid…
Take your foot off the accelerator.
Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.
If your front wheels skid…
Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
If you get stuck…
Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
Do I Need Winter Tires on My Car?
In Lynchburg, Virginia we see our share of messy weather! There has been plenty of snow, ice, and rain to go around these past few years, and when you throw in our mountains and windy roads and we often face worse driving conditions than most. With the winter snow we are often asked about the need for and use of Winter tires. Also referred to as Snow tires, these tires have unique tread designs that are made exclusively for use in cold weather and on snow, slush and ice. These tires are made from softer rubber compounds that retain their flexibility in the cold. Winter tires on your car or truck can make a significant difference in how they grip and handle the road in snow, slush, or ice. When you add winter tires to your vehicle you can increase your traction which helps you accelerate and stop more safely as well as improve the overall stability and balance of your ride.
So, do you need them? Well it may not always be practical to keep winter tires for each vehicle, but there is no doubt it offers a safer, more comfortable driving experience in the winter. Here are some common questions we get:
Can I just keep the winter snow tires on all year long?
Yes, you can, BUT we don’t recommend it. The design of these tires and the softer rubber means louder, less comfortable rides, and they will inevitably wear out faster.
Can I just put two winter snow tires on my car?
No this will throw off the balance and grip of your car in general. Always install all 4 snow tires or none at all.
Are my all-season tires just as good?
No, unfortunately poor weather is an extreme and these tires are more general.
If you need Winter Tires we carry the largest selection in Lynchburg, Forest, and Madison Heights for winter and snow tires, including all the leading brands. We’ll install them for you and swap them when the seasons come. Just gives us a call and we’ll help you find the right set of Winter Snow Tires for your car!
Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services