Winter in Tucson, AZ is mostly mild. In fact, many people from other parts of the country flock to our humble city to seek refuge from the harsh winter of their home state this time of year. Even though snow and ice aren’t typically things you have to deal with here in the city, there is plenty of opportunity to visit the snow. You can drive a few hours north to Sedona, Flagstaff or another area where snow is common. There is also the nearby Mt. Lemmon for some snow fun and even skiing! When you visit these places, it is important to know how to be prepared for adverse weather and how to drive safely.
These are our top road safety and driving tips you can use the next time you plan on traveling through winter weather conditions.
- Inspect your tires. Your tires are the only thing between you and the road and they play an important role in winter driving safety. In Tucson, snow tires are not a necessity, but if you plan on driving to snowy areas you may want to make sure that you bring along a set of snow chains. Also, before you head out, check your tire pressure and tread. Don’t forget to inspect the spare, the last thing you want is to be stuck with a damaged tire and an unreliable spare.
Tire inflation should be checked at least once a month and before long road trips regardless of the season. In the winter, however, tire pressure drops one pound per 10 degree drop in temperature so you may want to check your pressure every other week and before driving in snow. Tires that are overinflated or underinflated are not able to grip the road properly, which can be dangerous when the roads are slick. Tires that are improperly inflated also have a negative impact on your gas mileage.
Tire tread should be checked as frequently as the pressure. Worn tires result in poor traction and can make it easier for your vehicle to hydroplane or skid on ice.
- Check your lights. Visibility is extremely important when you are on the road, especially when you are in situations when your line of vision is impaired by inclement weather. You want to make sure that not only can you see, but that you are seen by other vehicles. Make sure that your headlights, taillights, turn signals, and reverse lights are all working properly.
- Inspect your windshield, windshield wipers, and wiper fluid. This all goes along with visibility. You don’t want cracks in the windshield obstructing your view. You also don’t want to turn on your wipers when you need them only to find that they are worn, cracked, or bouncing and leaving more dirt and streaks than was there before. Make sure any snow and ice are completely removed from your windshield, wipers, mirrors and other windows before you drive anywhere. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the snow, you may want to put freeze resistant windshield washer fluid in your vehicle.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full always. Running out of gas could be dangerous. If for some reason you are stuck somewhere in the cold or snow you will want to be able to keep the heater going if needed. Running out of gas would mean no heat. This also helps you to prevent the gas line from freezing up.
- Stock your vehicle with a roadside emergency kit. You should, of course, have your basics- a first aid kit, flashlight, flares, traffic triangles, jumper cables, tire change equipment, etc. But, you should also plan for the climate you will be in. Pack an ice scraper and snow chains, kitty litter or sand and a shovel, extra winter clothes and blankets, and non-perishable food and water just in case. Always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
- Have your vehicle inspected by our automotive repair experts. A break down is never fun, but it is even worse in the cold. Cold winter temps are especially hard on your battery. Have us check the battery to make sure the voltage, amperage and reserve capacity are satisfactory. If they are not, or your battery is older than three or four years old, you may want to consider replacing it. You’ll also want to have your cooling system inspected to make sure there are no leaks or damage and that you have the proper amount of coolant/antifreeze. We can also do a brake inspection when you bring your vehicle in to make sure you have the stopping power you need on the slick winter roads.
Winter Driving Safety Tips
AAA offers the following safety tips for driving on snowy and/or icy winter roads:
- Slowly accelerate and decelerate. Pressing on the gas slowly and gently to accelerate your vehicle is the best way to maintain traction and avoid skidding. You will also need more time to slow your vehicle on icy roads. Avoid skidding by gently and slowly pressing down on your brake pedal.
- Slow your speed. When there is snow on the road, everything from accelerating to turning to stopping takes longer. Give yourself time to respond to these situations by slowing your speed.
- Keep your distance. In normal driving conditions, the rule of thumb for the amount of space you should leave between you and another vehicle is three to four seconds. In inclement weather and on snowy roads you should increase the amount of space between you and another vehicle to around eight to ten seconds. This safely allows for the extra time your vehicle requires to stop and turn on a slick road.
- Use your lights. Fog, rain, and snow make it difficult for other motorists to see you. Make sure you are using your lights as a safety precaution. Use your turn signal every time you plan on turning. Consider turning it on a little sooner than normal to give other drivers time to react to what you are doing. The same goes for stopping; apply your brake a little sooner than normal to give other drivers adequate time to stop as well, helping you avoid a possible accident. Whenever you drive in inclement weather conditions it is a good idea to utilize your headlights. Remember, high-beams reflect in fog, rain, and snow and should not be used as this makes it harder to see when you are driving. Your normal low-beam lights will work just fine. Dim dashboard lights and keep interior lights off at night as they can make it harder to see the road.
- Don’t rely solely on your AWD (all-wheel-drive) system. AWD is wonderful for providing extra traction, but it doesn’t help you slow or stop your vehicle. You should always drive with caution no matter how good you feel about the capabilities of your vehicle.
- Use your best judgment. Sometimes the best thing you can do in winter road conditions is to stay put unless you absolutely MUST go somewhere. Should this be the case, follow the tips above to make it to your destinations as safely as possible.
If you need help preparing your vehicle for winter travel, call on the experts at Accurate Service. From Ford to Audi to Honda, we work on all makes and models of vehicles. Call 520.441.4744 or schedule your appointment online.