10 Tips for Winter Driving

Winter has made its presence known this week in Kansas City!  And, with that comes the annual epidemic of IFHD syndrome (I Forgot How to Drive).   Though you are probably a veteran winter driving expert, I am sure you know what I am talking about.  A little white dusting, or minor freezing drizzle, and it seems like there are enormous magnets sucking vehicles into the ditches around here!  

Well... Whether you are a daily commuter, a contractor hauling equipment, or Mario Andretti Jr in training, these tips from our friends at Total Landscape Care magazine will surely help you out!

1. Tire pressure

Driving safely on slippery surfaces is all about maximizing traction at all four tire contact points of the truck. It’s critical to keep the tire pressures at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended psi. Under/over-inflated tires upset vehicle control.

2. Matched tires

Never run mixed tire tread patterns, sizes or tread wear on a vehicle in the winter.

Again, equal traction on the front and rear are critical for vehicle control. New tires on the front and old on the rear will cause the truck to oversteer (rear to slide out); new tires in back, old in front will cause understeer (push, not turn). Replace tires in sets of four.

3. Tire type

The best tires for winter use in areas where heavy snowfall is common are dedicated snow tires.

Snow tires are made with tread compounds designed to maximize tread flexibility and road contact while driving on snow/ice. All-season and all-terrain tires are marginal. Mud/traction tires are not recommended for snow driving.

Shocks and suspension components take a beating when subjected to snowplow use. Shocks should be checked annually and the fronts should be replaced at least every 25,000 miles.

4. About shocks

Worn-out shocks cause instability when the truck encounters dips and bumps, cornering and towing. Instability upsets vehicle balance and control in slick conditions. Replace factory shocks at least every 25,000 miles and aftermarket gas-shocks every 50,000 to be safe. Replace front shocks twice as frequent when using the truck for plowing.

5. Brake or turn

The first lesson in snow driving school is when making a corner, either brake or turn, never both at the same time. Brake in a straight line before the turn, then lift off of the brake and turn the wheel slowly. Smoothness is the key to being a good winter driver.

6. Adjust speed

The biggest mistake when driving on slick roads, especially snow-packed or plowed roads, is driving too fast. Speeding can’t be corrected by braking on snow/ice. That problem is compounded when towing a trailer. How fast is too fast? Test the road surface from time to time when no one is behind or ahead by lightly putting your foot on the brakes to test the slipperiness of the road surface. You’ll know if your speed is appropriate.

Equipping pickups that work every day in the snow with dedicated snow tires provides the driver with an added margin of vehicle control and safety.

7. Straighten to turn

If you are trying to make a turn and the vehicle doesn’t respond, straighten the steering wheel while keeping off of the brakes or throttle. Front tires turned too sharp can’t get traction. They skid instead of roll, creating a “plowing” effect. Straightening the wheel helps regain steering control.

8. Trailer skid control

If the trailer starts to jackknife, accelerate and don’t brake. At the same time, keep the tow vehicle’s wheels straight – don’t counter-steer in the direction of the sliding trailer. Once the trailer is straight, slowly brake to regain control.

9. Boxing corners

Another winter towingtip is “V-ing off” the corners by braking in a straight line before entering the corner then steering through it, before accelerating out of the corner when the truck and trailer are again in a straight line. Never turn and brake at the same time.

10. Weight balance

Keeping the vehicle (and trailer) balanced at all times is the primary goal for winter driving. When the weight balance on the tires shifts front to rear, or side to side, because of aggressive driving habits, the vehicle control becomes an immediate issue. Accelerate easily. Turn smoothly. Brake lightly.

Bonus! - Be sure your cell phone is fully charged prior to leaving.  You never know when you may have an untimely event, and most people these days tend to think "Oh, they must have a cell phone with them..." as they drive right by your stranded car.  :(

- See more at: http://www.totallandscapecare.com/winter-driving-safety/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=12-30-2015&utm_campaign=Total%20Landscape%20Care&ust_id=8834c521c1b0bdb7cc3e4991844ccedb#sthash.o3dtrowi.dpuf