car with headlights on driving in the snow in winter

It’s always important to drive with safety in mind. But when winter rolls around, unpredictable weather and road conditions make driving with care and caution even more important. In Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area, even veteran meteorologists have a tough time predicting snow and ice. As a driver, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself and your vehicle for the worst, and hope for the best.


Keep reading for need-to-know information on Portland winter driving conditions, how to prepare for bad roads, and tips for driving during a storm.

Portland Driving Conditions During the Winter Months

The winter brings heavy rain throughout the Pacific Northwest, in addition to some snowfall, freezing rain, and icy or slippery roads. Portland winter weather can be unpredictable, and power has been known to go out in parts of the city and region for hours or even days. 


Due to variable winter weather, road conditions in Portland, Oregon can be extremely unpredictable. Snow may be just a few inches or up to several feet, and falling snow or freezing rain can lead to low visibility and slick surfaces. Pedestrians and other drivers may not take the precautions they should. There is an increased risk of car crashes in winter weather, so it’s important to be especially cautious.

How To Prepare for Driving in Bad Weather

inside of car view of person driving during winter

What you do to prepare yourself and your vehicle before a storm hits can be as important as how you drive during a storm and immediately after. If possible, avoid driving in severe winter weather. Stay home or take public transportation whenever possible. While staying off icy roads is always a safer option, it’s not always possible.


If you need to drive in winter weather, here’s how to prepare:


  • Make sure your head and taillights are functioning properly.
  • Check that your battery and fluids are okay.
  • Make sure you don’t have any car warnings.
  • Ensure you have more than enough gas.
  • Clean your windows, lights, and mirrors to improve your visibility.
  • Put chains on your tires if it’s already snowy or icy, and keep some in your car if snow or freezing rain is expected.
  • Bring an emergency kit, water bottles, basic food supplies, a small shovel, a blanket, a flashlight, and an ice scraper in case you get stuck or stranded.
  • Charge your phone and don’t forget to bring it.
  • Check weather and road conditions before you leave and plan out your trip.
  • Tell friends or family members where you’re going and how you plan to get there.

How to Adjust Your Driving for Safety in the Winter


When you have to drive on icy roads or in a storm, do so with extreme caution. Always be more careful than you think you need to be. Here are some tried-and-true winter driving tips to keep you and others on the road safe:


  • Drive more slowly and cautiously than you normally would. 
  • Brake earlier than you normally would for stop lights, stop signs, pedestrians, and other vehicles. 
  • Extend the distance you leave between you and the car in front of you.
  • Never brake and turn at the same time; this is a recipe for disaster.
  • Keep a careful eye out for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Listen to weather forecasts so you can avoid dangerous areas or sites of crashes.
  • Watch other cars carefully to see if they’re being affected by the ice.


Some Portland counties, including Multnomah, have interactive winter road maps. Take advantage of these tools to find the safest routes.

What To Do if Your Car Skids or Slides on Ice

snowy road during winter

While the driving tips mentioned above will minimize the risk of skidding, it’s always a possibility. If your car does go into a skid, do not panic. Instead, immediately take your foot off both the gas and the brake pedals. This will allow your tires to begin spinning again. As you lift your foot off the pedals, look around and determine where you want to go. Using both hands, try to gently steer the wheel in that direction.

How To Drive Up a Hill on Icy Roads

Hills are notoriously unpleasant when roads are icy. If you live on a hill and know you’ll need to drive in icy conditions, try to think ahead and park your car down the hill so you can walk to it and drive on flat roads. But if you do need to go up a hill, try to gather momentum before you reach the incline. Don’t try to power up it by slamming your foot down on the gas as you reach the hill. This may spin your tires, which can cause you to stop in the middle of the hill and begin sliding backward.


Tire chains are your best friend when it comes to driving on icy hills. Don’t risk it! If a hill looks treacherous, stop and put chains on your tires.

If Your Car Has Been Damaged in an Accident, We’re Here To Help!

person driving a volkswagen on a snowy cold road

We should all be doing our part to drive safely and courteously to help prevent collisions, especially in winter weather conditions. But accidents happen, and when they do, you need an auto body collision repair shop you can rely on. 


Mackin’s Auto Body has been in business since 1945, faithfully serving the Portland and SW Washington area. Being involved in an accident is always stressful. Getting your car repaired and back on the road in a timely manner can make a big difference. We do everything we can to make the entire repair process as simple and stress-free as possible, and we work directly with your insurance carrier on your behalf to take care of the hassle for you!


Stop by one of our 9 locations, contact us online, or give us a call at 1.800.653.0665 to tell us how we can help.