How To Prepare For Winter Driving

The colder months bring unique challenges for drivers. Fewer daylight hours, changeable weather conditions, and wet or icy roads can make winter driving more difficult than summer, spring, or fall. Before winter rolls around, it’s important to take steps to prepare your vehicle for winter conditions and adjust the way you drive to account for winter driving hazards you haven’t dealt with in a while.

Keep reading to learn how you and your car can get prepared and take advantage of our winter driving tips to keep you safe and your car in good condition on the roads this winter season!


winter driving


Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter Driving

It’s important to prioritize driving safely all year-round, and the months leading up to the winter season is a great time to get regular maintenance checks and services to keep your vehicle in top working condition. 

Checking your tire pressure and tread depth, changing the oil, making sure your heater is working, and testing your brakes and battery are all important steps to making sure you and your vehicle stay safe on the roads – especially leading up to cold or hazardous weather. It’s also a good idea to brush up on basic repairs that you can do yourself this winter. For example, there are a number of helpful DIY hail damage repair tips that can save you money and maintain your vehicle after harsh weather.


What types of driving hazards come with winter driving?

Spring and summer bring their own unique hazards, such as glare from the sun and more people, pets, and wildlife on the roads. But there’s no doubt that winter poses specific challenges. 

Here are a few of the most important winter driving hazards to be prepared for:


While snow can be a lot of fun and beautiful to look at, it also comes with a lot of potential dangers, especially on the road. Snow is notoriously slippery and can make it difficult to stay in control of your car. If you’re not careful, it’s easy to slide along the roads, putting you and other drivers at greater risk. It also reduces your visibility – especially during active storms – and covers the road, which makes it more difficult to see potholes, debris, and other hazards.

Icy Roads

Ice on the roads significantly increases the chance that you might lose control of your vehicle and end up in a collision. Keep in mind that ice can be difficult to see, especially in the dark or if it’s covered by a layer of snow. Knowing how to navigate icy roads can save lives. Whenever you encounter ice, drive slowly and deliberately and leave more space than you think you need between your car and others on the road. If conditions are treacherous, avoid driving if possible.

Low-Visibility Conditions

As the days get shorter, so does your window of clear visibility. Driving at night is more dangerous for a number of reasons, and many people have no choice but to drive their daily commutes in the dark. Whether you’re dealing with nightfall or winter weather such as snow, fog, or hail, you should prepare for lower visibility throughout the season.


What should you carry in your car during winter driving?

Make sure your car is stocked with emergency supplies in case you get in an accident or your car breaks down in bad conditions. This is especially important if you’re driving through remote or unpopulated areas or if you encounter freezing temperatures. 


winter driving safety


You can buy winter emergency car kits online or compile your own supplies, but it’s important to include the essentials. Here’s what we recommend keeping in your winter emergency car kit:

  • A well-charged cell phone – It’s also a good idea to keep a portable charger and/or extra batteries in your vehicle.
  • Clothes and blankets – If your car breaks down, you’ll want to have extra hats, coats, gloves, and blankets to keep yourself and any passengers warm until help arrives.
  • Tire chains – This is especially important if you’re driving through higher elevations or on icy roads.
  • A shovel – This is helpful in case you get stuck in the snow and need to dig your way out.
  • A windshield scraper – A scraper is essential to ensure you can see the roads.
  • A battery-powered radio – If your phone has no signal, you may still be able to reach help through the radio; don’t forget to pack extra batteries.
  • A flashlight – Having a flashlight with extra batteries could help save your life if you need to get to safety or get the attention of someone who can help in the dark.
  • Water and snacks – A gallon or two of water and a few protein bars are essential in emergency situations.
  • A first-aid kit – Include pain medication, bandages, and a pocket knife.
  • Jumper cables – Cold weather causes stress on your car battery, so it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Should you change your tires for winter?

While some people opt for all-season tires to reduce the need for consistent tire changes, this isn’t a solution for all drivers – particularly those that live in areas with extreme weather throughout the year. If you expect frost or snowfall over the winter, changing to winter tires is one of the best ways to stay safe on the road and mitigate winter driving hazards.

Winter tires are recommended once the temperature consistently drops below 46°F. They are made with deeper tread patterns, allowing for superior traction and provide more efficient braking performance. Winter tires are also made from highly durable rubber, designed to prevent blowouts and stand up to winter weather such as snow, sleet, and hail.

how to drive in snow


Do You Need Collision Repair? Mackin’s Auto Body is here to help!

Mackin’s Auto Body has been providing expert collision repair in the Portland and SW Washington area for more than 75 years. Our specialists are knowledgeable and efficient, ensuring that your repairs will be completed quickly and effectively so that you can get back on the road in a vehicle you can trust. 

Visit one of our nine locations or contact us online today!