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Hagerty Employee

6 winter driving reminders (even if you don't get snow)

Compared to the sweetness of summer, winter driving and its icy, slow-going is not everyone's idea of fun. Slippery and fast-changing conditions make the cold season the most dangerous for motorists. Luckily, with a measured degree of care and attention, you can beat the odds and arrive for spring ready to cruise.

Kyle, many Blessings for this. I was born and raised on the Atlantic Coast and I learned all this from my Father. I am now on the Left Coast in the Mountains and although I'm low enough in altitude so we don't get snow it does get cold and your advice is still meaningful here.
Stay well.
Advanced Driver

Low enough in elevation. You DO live on the ground, right?
Intermediate Driver

I am surprised you did not mention the “oh s&@t” bag. A properly equipped bag with a blanket,candle, candy bar, jump box and/or cables, accessible from the vehicle interior is imperative. My bag has a tow strap, flares and more. My bag is just one cubic foot and even includes a small fire extinguisher that I once used to assist a trucker with a burning brake. Like the scout motto says, be prepared.
Intermediate Driver

All these are useful. I'd add a warning to be alert for black ice. Winter roads, like the one in the pic for "Extra Stopping Distance" can look easy to handle until you come upon the usually invisible ice and then you go for an unpleasant ride. Drivers new to winter driving especially need to learn about black ice. (Yes, I'm in FL but spent many years dealing with Northeast winter roads.)
New Driver

7, keep your distance

One car length for each 10 Miles per hour.


8. Watch your speed, winter tires are not miracle devices, they work best best with lots of space and reduced velocity.



Intermediate Driver

The battery you show has the SOLD ON DATE, NOT the build date! It may have sat for six months before being installed. There is usually a month/year stamp someplace on the battery for the build date.
Winter tires DO make a difference if you drive in snow for part of the year. The second set of rims is a good way to do it. Other than that, good advise for people who need to drive in winter/icy conditions.
New Driver

I've been driving for almost 54 years and know all these reminders by heart, but it's a great idea to bring them up every year. Unless the snow tires are studded, they're not worth the additional cost. I haven't run snow tires in decades. Another tip I might add for those that have a front wheel drive daily driver. Having worked in tire sales for 7 years before I retired in 2020, I can't tell you how many times I tried to explain to someone that wanted to install 2 snow tires on the front for their car that it was extremely dangerous to do so. Regardless of the type of drive system you have, you want the tires with the best traction on the rear.
Advanced Driver

Studded snow tires are worthless. I had them when I was a kid and guess what? Steel is not as good a traction compound as rubber! Plus they wear the heck out of the paved roads!
New Driver

Unless your wiper blades are damaged, try this trick to help prevent streaking. Dampen a rag with washer fluid and gentle run it up and down the blade. You will be surprised by the results. Regarding washer fluid, I use winter grade all year long. That makes it simple and you can purchase it at a discount at the end of the season.

Why people don't bother to clear the roof I never know. Always fun to see some ice chunk of snow heading your way.

Winter tires plus AWD turbo Subaru led to way too much fun in the snow. The only joy of Chicago winters was driving in unplowed lanes and never feeling ABS kicking in.

Until you have the six inches of snow with a sheet of ice attached to it coming off the top of a semi trailer on the expressway engulf your entire vehicle before creating “mayhem” (we all know him) the general public doesn’t get it. Safety needs to be a mindset that first responders give you a welcome smile when seeing your habits!

Winter tires (the best) on an all wheel drive Challenger or Charger (pick your drivetrain combo) makes snow painting a new winter sport no longer limited to airplanes writing messages in the sky….the toasty warm seats, steering wheel, mirrors and driver make it a joy that only Mopar Muscle can provide ….

I run the same rig 12 months a year delivering bulk e-commerce (2017 3500 Express). and prior to now, I ran a 2004 95K per year (put 770K on it) across northern MI. regardless of weather. Snow tires are a MUST and I would add, good break pads are also important, due to poor traction this is more important than some mite realize. Also, not watching far enough ahead, causes more accidents than anything, watching for "other drivers" about to share the same space your already in. I am able to store mine inside, and believe this adds substantial life to all components. Lastly, keep your windshield washer reservoir full. God I hate winter.
New Driver

The date calendar shown is not the mfg date. That is the installation date. And your lucky if it's punched out. Mfg dates are a letter and a number indicating the month and year built. Usually a circle on the side of the battery.
In some states, not clearing the roof is illegal, and in others, if the snow hits another car or pedestrian from flying off the car, you could end up paying a fine.
Intermediate Driver

A warm blanket,some dried foods or mre's and some water kept in the trunk is a good thing as well. Yes the bottled water may freeze but it will thaw once its in the passenger compartment of the vehicle if you happen to get stranded in the winter.
Intermediate Driver

All tire comments aside, take the case of beer out of the trunk before it freezes. Whiskey has an alcohol content that is much higher so it's fine.
Pit Crew

Re: Winter tires and wheel swap...
I live in the Portland OR area, where snow is relatively rare, but subject to occasional freezing rain and icing, and I have to deal with both hilly areas and a rather steep driveway. I have an older AWD Subaru Outback, and purchased a set of steel takeoff rims on which I mounted a set of winter Michelins. These are very useful in dealing with wet roads (We get a lot of that) and any ice that may form. My standard all-season tires cannot cope with that.
It like to swap off my factory alloys in the fall and mount the winter wheels and tires. The factory alloys are equipped with a TPM system and the dashboard recognizes those. However, the steel takeoffs did not have them, and the dash warning light stays on - I cover it with a bit of electrical tape.
I have been told that dealers and tire shops are no longer allowed by Federal law to install any wheels without these special TPM valves that "talk" to the car? They are rather costly and need to be replaced periodically. Nearly every car is now fitted with this kind of system. What does anyone know about this rule?

Rather costly is a bit of an understatement. Several of the batteries went dead in my TPM system shortly after I bought my car. The quoted price to replace them was $ 1,500.00. That did not include tires. The tires were hardly worn. I lived with the dead batteries and the dash warning light until I had to replace the tires.
Pit Crew

Bunka - Your tires are not the issue here unless they have aged out, worn or not. When you replace the tires, that's the time to address the TPM valves, so tape over the little warning light and carefully monitor your tire pressures with an accurate hand or in-line gauge.
I have seen some on-line references that suggest that since the TPM system is a Federally mandated safety requirement, like seat belts and airbags, the manufacturer bears the responsibility of making sure it works properly over the long term. Does that mean the manufacturer should bear the cost of either new TPM sensors or their batteries should they fail (never knew they had integral batteries until I ran into this issue, and I'll wager your owners' manual never mentions that fact) or it falls on the owner's shoulders? That might all be wishful thinking, and in the end it's on us. That being said, the price you mentioned (by a dealer?) seems excessive, even with installation - which should be easily done at new-tire and valve stem replacement time. Changing out valve stems is a normal part of a new tire sale, and is usually included in the tire price. Shop around, including independent tire shops. However, I am also told that some aftermarket sensors do not "talk" to the car's monitoring system, and that would leave you in the lurch. They need to be guaranteed to function correctly. For now, I will ignore the system. Perhaps next fall I will address it if we face the threat of a harsh winter up here. Good luck!
Intermediate Driver

Thanks for these tips, Kyle.
Don't let the curmudgeons get you down!

Here is the reality of winter driving. Some folks grow up driving in snow and you learn to adapt well. Also in traditional snow areas the road conditions are often better than winter road conditions in Dallas as we have the equipment to deal with it.

I live in Akron Ohio and here you either work for a tire company, have family that work for the tire company, have friends that work for the tire companies, or all the above.

I have all the above including tire engineers and few if any use winter tires here in the snow belt of Lake Erie where it can dump 10” over night.

Most good all seasons today are so very advanced that they have 3 types of compounds now on the tread face. They work more than adequate for good safe driving. Race slicks are better on dry roads too but you don’t bolt them on for a sunny day either.

Then some feel you have to have AWD or FWD. No RWD gets around just fine with just learning some basic driving skills on steering into a turn. Limited slip riffs are also helpful.

Don’t assume FWD is perfect as if you spin the tires you lose your steering. Also don’t live on stability control or anti locks as they can fail you at times as they can only help so much.

The greatest dangers in snow driving are #1 people with worn out tires. Many people just need tread and just don’t have it.

#2 learn how your car reacts to different conditions. Go in a parking lot and do donuts or slides to get a feel for the vehicle.

#3 Don’t get a death grip and fear snow. Some actually can be overly cautious and become a road. Lock when conditions are not that bad.

I have always viewed snow driving as a yearly test of my skills and I like the challenge.

Now Ice is a different beast. If you get lots of ice or freezing temps below what salt will take care of winter tires can help.

Finally put the dang cell phone down and just pay attention.

I drove for most of my life on two wheel drive vehicles with RWD on all season tires. I never had issues. I often even travel back roads to avoid traffic created by people with worn out tires and no driving skills.

Now if you are Simeon that needs winter tires that is fine. But every driver is not alike. Skill sets vary, where you live or grew up vary how they deal with roads where you live vary.

I had a co worker that moved to Dallas and they had a winter blast but the roads were much what we see al, the time in Ohio. He got pulled over going yo work and they thought he was crazy for being out. Once the learned he was from Ohio they sent him on his way.

100% agree with this article and yours!, also LIKED Geok86 Tip#6 Just move south… thing I’ve ever done reply! I have always had the rule of thumb thought process that; “If you can not safely drive at forty miles per hour on whatever surface, you do not belong out there!” Given the speed limit of course. It’s the forty and below, that whatever the excuses are, (mostly bald tires or I need eggs) make winter driving hazardous for everyone involved. Thanks for the article…

I moved south just not far enough. Just got 16" of snow yesterday. Back to normal today. 

What is the end of the world for some is routine to others just depending on where you live. 


I do my best for global warming. I would like Tennessee Weather here in Ohio. 


Tip #6
Just move south…best thing I’ve ever done.

We get snow every year up here in Canada and at the end of October/start of November I switch my summer tyres and rims for the winter set. The way I see it is that it's cheaper to have a set of good condition winter tyres than paying the deductible after an insurance claim. My AWD BMW wagon certainly stops shorter in the snow with the winter rubber installed than it did on the original equipment all-seasons, and surely it's the stopping that counts?

This is a good article that covered the basic safety points of winter driving. Very helpful to all the transplants we get here in Michigan. Yet, I can't believe the lame-A$% comments that someone felt necessary to make. The author knows what he's doing and how his van performs here. No need for these comments from the know-it-all's. And that one guy that doesn't know that "rims" and wheel are the same thing. We all did!!! Yes, sir, it is an easy swap!!!

Great article. I lived in New England for way too long, and the number of jackasses I saw that couldn’t be bothered to clear ALL of their windows or their roof was outrageous. Don’t be lazy! Clear your dang vehicle! Snow/ice on your roof does blow off occasionally and hit the car behind you!

Also, I’ll lever forget the time that a small sedan braked hard to avoid hitting someone and the giant sheet of snow and ice that they couldn’t be bothered to clear off their roof promptly slid right onto their windshield. It was too heavy for the wipers to move. So they there were, in the middle of a busy, slick road standing beside their vehicle trying to clear their windshield so they could see again.