LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As the weather turns chilly in Arkansas, it’s time to think about how that will change driving and car care.
It’s not just the slick roads that make winter driving unique. The cold weather can make cars more fussy, so it’s better to be ready in advance.
AAA has been sharing driving tips with motorists since its founding. Here’s their winter driving checklist so you’ll be ready when the snow starts blowing:
- Stay home: When the weather’s bad and driving is hazardous, the best thing to be safe is not to drive. It’s not just snow and ice; wet roads and heavy rain can also make driving hazardous.
- Slow down: Less traction on winter roads means slowing down to help maintain control. Drivers should allow for extra time.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly: Allow some extra room, and time, by easing on and easing off on the accelerator.
- Careful with the brakes: AAA recommends keeping your heel on the floor and just using the ball of your foot on the brake pedal when it’s slippery or close to slippery.
- Don’t stop if you can help it: Coming to a complete stop, or starting from a complete stop, is more difficult on slippery roads. AAA says to slow down and keep rolling if you are able at traffic lights. Not coming to a stop is especially important when going uphill in slippery weather.
And remember, the year-round safe driving tips still apply: Don’t drive distracted, for example.
Meanwhile, it’s important that your car is ready before the weather turns. The National Highway Traffic Administration and Consumer Reports have some advice here:
- Check your battery: Batteries get weaker over time and lose cranking power in cold weather. The best bet is to check it now or have it checked at a garage or parts store. And make sure you know how to jump-start a car. Jumpstarting is not hard, but it’s easy to do wrong and the results of doing it wrong are profound.
- Get some new wiper blades: Consumer Reports advises that wiper blades can lose effectiveness in as little as six months. If yours are streaking or missing spots on the windshield, then it’s time to get new ones. If you don’t know how to change them, most auto parts stores will swap them out for you.
- Check under the hood: You’ll want to make sure your car is serviced, the oil is full and the antifreeze is enough to protect you with a 50/50 water/antifreeze blend. While you’re there, check your hoses and check your belts for fraying.
- Check your tires: Do they have enough air? How about tread? Some people use the penny test to test tread depth or use the tire’s wear bar, but really stopping by a tire shop with a tread depth gauge should get you the clearest picture.
- Keep it up: NHTSA recommends keeping the gas tank closer to full. And if you drive an EV, remember that battery performance will suffer in cold weather. Be prepared to charge more often.
The NHTSA also reminds drivers to stock up their car for winter weather. Experts recommend keeping things on hand like windshield deice, jumper cables, a flashlight, and don’t forget blankets and a cell phone charger if you get stuck.
Final tip: The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department’s iDrive Arkansas website can keep you up to date with Arkansas road conditions, including winter weather impacts.