The winter is probably the worst time of year to experience car trouble. Winter poses quite a few problems for vehicles. It is important to bring your vehicle in for regular maintenance inspections. You might have noticed a correlation between temperatures dropping and the tire pressure light coming on. When the temperature undergoes fluctuations, tire pressure can change. Gasses expand when heated and contract when temperatures decline—so your pressure can increase in the summer and decrease in the winter. For every 10 degrees of temperature drop, your tires will lose 1 pound of pressure. When you wake up to an especially cold morning, it isn’t out of the norm that you might need to fill your tires. Adequate inflation is necessary for maximum handling, traction, and durability as designed by the tire manufacturer. Basically, if you want your tire to do its job properly, you need to do yours by ensuring it’s inflated properly. After all, it’s the air pressure that supports your vehicle’s weight and not the tire itself. It’s best to keep an eye on your tire pressure throughout the winter. You should check the pressure in the morning before the tire has been run, before the temperature rises, and before it’s exposed to direct sunlight, as these might give you a false reading. Additionally, the act of driving affects tire temperature; tire pressure can increase by up to 5 psi in the first 20-30 minutes of driving before finally stabilizing. Additionally, low temperatures can affect your tires’ rubber. The cold has a tendency of making rubber products more rigid and brittle, and tires aren’t necessarily the exception to this. Some ultra-high-performance summer tires run the risk of losing grip and cracking in cold weather. Tires can begin losing elasticity around 45 degrees. Make sure to check the tires regularly, so you can rest assured they are at the amount needed to drive on.
Slowing down is the most important thing to do when driving on ice and snow. High speeds make it both easy to lose control and difficult to stop. In many cases, much slower speeds are necessary. You can slide off of the road on certain types of more treacherous icing – like black ice – at 10mph or less. If you’re fishtailing or sliding at all, it means you are going too fast for the conditions. You will also want to pay attention to the weather. This includes where you are leaving from, where you are headed, and any roads or areas you are driving. This can help you to be aware of what the roads will be like, and how you should drive. Brake application is a common trigger of slides that result in a loss of vehicle control. ABS (antilock brakes) do not work well on ice and snow, and often will lock up your wheels regardless. Sliding wheels are uncontrollable, that is, steering input will not change the vehicle’s direction if the wheels are sliding. If you’re fishtailing or sliding, it usually means you are going too fast. Reduce your speed so you won’t need to worry about this! Most high-speed slides are difficult to correct successfully. If you’re caught off guard and begin sliding, turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding. It helps to look with your eyes where you want the car to go, and turn the steering wheel in that direction. It is easy to steer too far, causing the car to slide in the other direction. You will also want to make sure that your vehicle has a winter survival kit, so incase you are in an accident, you will have plenty of things to keep you warm, signal for help, and something to eat or a bottle of water to drink.