Winter Weather Driving Tips

​When the chilly temperatures of winter set in, will you & your vehicle be ready for the cold?

Tires with snow

Driving in the winter can be harrowing, especially in snowstorms and icy conditions.  By getting your vehicle ready for winter and using some simple tips to drive safely, you can face almost any weather Mother Nature decides to send your way.

  • NEVER warm up a vehicle in an enclosed are, such as a garage
  • Before heading out, make sure to check the weather, road conditions, and traffic - familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go.
  • Avoid driving while you're fatigued to reduce driving risks
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated
  • Four-wheel and all-wheel vehicles do not stop or steer better on ice
  • Do not use cruise control
  • Leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you  (Remember, the larger the vehicle, the longer the stopping distance.)
  • Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges, or shady spots
  • If you find yourself behind a snowplow, slow down and give the plow a little extra room
  • Slow down and be extra cautious near the chain-up and removal areas. There are often people out of their vehicles.
  • Those traveling into higher elevations should carry chains and have approved traction tires whenever winter weather is possible, especially Nov. 1 through March 31. Visit Washington State Department of Transportation to view videos and current restrictions.

Vehicle Emergency Kit

winter driving emergency kits

Fall is a perfect time to consider a vehicle emergency kit. Some common items to include are:

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Cellphone chargers
  • Water & snacks
  • Jumper cables
  • Rain poncho
  • Flares
  • Games/entertainment 

Additional items to consider during the winter season:

  • Keep your gas tank full
  • Add an ice scraper and a collapsible shovel
  • Include a NOAA Weather radio - pack extra batteries
  • Matches
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens
  • Necessary medications
  • Blanket(s)
  • Tow chain or rope
  • Road salt, sand, or cat litter for traction
  • Fluorescent distress flag

Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter

winterizing cars

​In additional to annual maintenance, here are some tips to winterize your vehicle:

  • Lights and flashing hazard lights - verify they are operational
  • Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level
  • Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly
  • Install good winter tires - make sure the tires have adequate tread
  • Chains or studded tires - some jurisdictions may require vehicles to be equipped with these in order to drive on their roads
  • Oil - check levels
  • Thermostat - ensure it works properly

        Additional items to consider by you or your mechanic:

        • Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas (note: a full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing)
        • Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing
        • Battery & ignition system 
        • Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels
        • Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes & repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually colorless and odorless!