Winter Driving Tips from Chevy

These ten tips from Chevy could keep you safe during this winter's treacherous driving season. 

2018 Chevrolet Equinox
2018 Chevrolet Equinox

If you’ve ever hit a patch of black ice or driven in a blizzard, you know how treacherous it can be driving in the wintertime. Chevy wants to make sure you all stay safe out there when the mercury drops so it's put together a list of winter driving tips to make sure you arrive safely to your destination with your precious cargo.

Chevy's broken down the list into two parts, what to do before you hit the road and what to do once you’re behind the wheel. First, before you hit the road:

Don’t Drive on Empty: Of course, this makes perfect sense as nobody likes running out of gas. Well, running out of gas when it’s 75-degrees and sunny is one thing, but running out of gas when it’s 5-degrees is dangerous.

Prepare your car for winter: Getting your maintenance done before winter is a good idea. You want to make sure your fluids are topped off too. You may only use that wiper flood sparingly during the summer months but in the winter the de-icing feature is a must.

Consider winter tires: I can personally attest this is a great idea. I once drove a 2011 Mustang through a blizzard in Indiana on snow tires and I didn’t slide at all, it was a dramatic difference in handling from all-season tires.

Know your vehicle: There are lots of people out there with all-wheel-drive cars that have no idea how to kick it into all-wheel-drive. Learn those features before you have to use them so they can help you when you need them.

Stock your car: You don’t have to load up like you’re going on a road-trip but the winter time requires some unique equipment. Snow brush and ice scraper are a must. In Chicago winters I used to keep a bag of kitty litter in the trunk to add weight and to get me out of the snow if I got stuck. Some cold weather clothing and a blanket aren’t a terrible idea either.

Chevy

Driving an SUV down a snowy road

Then once you get behind the wheel, winter driving is a whole different beast. Chevy offers up some advice on what to do once you’re on the road as well.

Maintain your momentum: If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve got to go through some rough stuff, let the car do the work for you. A body in motion tends to stay in motion so if the car is rocking and rolling through the snow, let the momentum of the car carry you on through. Try to avoid being too jerky with the brakes or the throttle.

Changing lanes: Even the basics get trickier in the winter. Keep an eye out for patches of snow as they will actually provide better traction for your maneuvers. If you start slipping, don’t go freaking out, just let the vehicles traction and stability control take over.

In case of a skid: Heaven forbid you start skidding but it does happen. I once skidded down a bridge heading right for cars parked at a red light below. The most important thing to do is to not pump the brakes. This is sort of an old-school thing as back in the day cars without anti-lock brakes needed different behavior. Now we’ve all got ABS so let the system do the work. Look in the direction you want the car to go, smoothly steer that way, and maintain pressure on the brake pedal. Let the car’s systems do the rest.

If the vehicle gets stuck: This is one of those tricky skills that you learn out of necessity. Inevitably, you’re going to get stuck in the snow at some point. If you’re lucky, you can rock the vehicle free. You can use the steering wheel to move the front tires left and right to try and clear the way a bit. Turn off your traction control, this is very important. You don’t want the car shutting off power to one wheel because the other is slipping a little. Then shift back and forth, going from forward to reverse, spinning the wheel as little as possible. Use that good old momentum again for help.

If the vehicle is stranded: Well GM wants you to call OnStar but that doesn’t apply to everybody out there. You can call AAA or your buddy with the pickup truck. If you find yourself stuck on the side of the road be sure to keep warm. If you’re going to leave the car running, make sure that there’s not a bunch of snow blocking the exhaust pipe. You don’t want those noxious fumes creeping into the cab. Also, crack a window to let a little fresh air in.

There you have it, folks, winter survival tips according to Chevy. I’ve got one more tip which I follow religiously in the winter—move to Florida.