Regardless of where you live, chances are you’re not able to avoid driving during the winter months. Whether you’ve got to get yourself to work or the kids off to school, the world doesn’t stop simply because the roads are slippery or its snowing for the third day in a row (unless you get a snow day, that is). Even if you work from home, you’re still going to need to leave the house at some point.
There’s no sugar coating it - driving during the winter can be dangerous. Not only are the roads slippery and unpredictable, but your car is also at risk of freezing, slipping, or losing traction. Doing routine errands like running to the grocery store or heading to a holiday party can become a dangerous situation if the weather conditions aren’t ideal, which is why it's imperative to be cautious and aware while driving during the winter.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 must-know hacks for how to safely and efficiently drive during the winter months. From tricks for how to reduce the amount of snow and ice build-up on your car overnight for how to become a more safe, alert driver, take these recommendations into consideration the next time you’re taking a drive while there’s snow on the road. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re known to run late in the mornings, having to scrape snow off your car can make it all the worse. But it’s one of those things you can’t avoid - unless you like driving your car with snow and ice blocking your view.
One way to cut back on the amount of time you spend getting snow off your vehicle in the winter - assuming you don’t store your car in a garage, that is - is to use plastic bags on the side mirrors overnight. Simply wrap each side mirror in a garbage bag and secure with an elastic band.
In the morning, you can simply undo the bags and the snow and ice will simply fall off, leaving you with clean mirrors. A tarp can serve the same purpose if you want to prevent snow and ice from falling on your windshields.
One important part of your car that can freeze is your keyhole. You might be attempting to open your car and won’t be able to turn the lock at all. Just imagine how much panic you’d be filled with at this moment!
To avoid this problem, carry a bit of hand sanitizer with you at all times. Simply coat your car keys in a bit of the sanitizer and then proceed to unlock the door. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, which effectively melts any ice inside the lock. Easy peasy, right?
Another way to avoid a frozen car lock is to spray WD-40 directly onto the locks, which will keep ice from building up.
The worst thing while you’re driving is when your windshield starts getting foggy. Not only is it a nuisance, but it can also be a driving hazard, especially if the weather is already making it difficult to see ahead of you.
To reduce the likelihood you’ll be stuck in this situation, simply clean your windshield with a can of shaving cream. Yes, we’re serious! Coat the inside of your windshield with a thin layer before wiping it clean. Shaving cream includes several of the same ingredients found in de-foggers, so it helps prevent your windows from fogging up while you drive.
Incorporate shaving cream into your car washing routine and say goodbye to foggy windshields!
Terrified your car doors are going to freeze and leave you no way of getting inside your vehicle? Well, this tip has got you covered.
This hack works in the same way that shaving cream reduces fogginess on your windshield. Simply use cooking spray on the rubber edges of each car door and wipe away the excess product with a paper towel. The ingredients in the cooking spray will help prevent the doors from freezing shut during cold temperatures - which will save you a lot of headache in the long run.
Cooking spray can be used on all sorts of surfaces to prevent freezing. Another way you might want to utilize it is on your snow shovel to prevent ice from building up.
This hack is particularly important for anyone who parks their car outside during the winter.
If you’ve never known the pain of your windshield wipers sticking to the window, then consider yourself lucky. But if you have, then you’re going to thank us for informing you of this life-saving hack.
Before leaving your car parked for the night, simply use long socks to cover your windshield wipers. This will prevent snow and ice from collecting on them, thus preventing them from freezing and sticking to the windshield. In the morning, take the socks off and throw them in your glove box so you can reuse them later on.
One of the most important things to do if you’re driving during the winter is to ensure your car’s tires have an appropriate amount of traction, otherwise, you’ll be slipping while out on the road. One way to check if your tires are in good condition is to test it with a penny.
“Hold the penny with your fingers grasping Lincoln’s body and then place it in one of the grooves of your tire with the president’s head pointing into it,” Mental Floss explains of this ingenious hack. “If the top of Lincoln's head disappears, then your tires are fine for the winter. But if the treads only reach the top of Honest Abe's head, it's time to buy new tires.”
Don’t freak out if your car is having trouble driving over a frozen patch or getting out of a snow embankment (or just a regular parking spot, depending on how frigid the area you live in is). Just invest in some kitty litter!
Seriously - sprinkling kitty litter on a snowy road behind your rear tires will help give your vehicle more traction. So, it will be easier to get out of sticky situations more easily or to help another car that’s having problems. Simply keep the litter in your trunk during the winter so you have it on you at all times.
Don’t have a cat? A heavy bag of road salt will also do the trick. So go with whatever is more convenient or depending on what you already have at home.
Okay, the last thing you probably want to do in the dead of winter is crank up the air conditioning. But don’t hate on this hack until you try it.
Your car’s air conditioner is one of the best de-foggers and can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend waiting for your windows to clear up. This is because the AC helps take the humidity out of the air, thus speeding up the process. Give it a try the next time your windows are foggy and before you turn up the heating.
A related hack is to give the car some air. Simply rolling down the windows and letting cold air inside before you turn up the heating will replace moist air from your breathe with colder air, effectively reducing the amount of frost on your windows.
You might be tempted to leave your water bottle for a few hours so it’ll be nice and chilly when you come back to your car. But leaving liquids in your vehicle may actually only increase the amount of time you spend de-fogging your car.
Beverages can actually create frost on the inside of your windows, which means you’ll be spending more time getting your car in order before you can drive away. It gets even worse if you accidentally leave a liquid overnight - if you do this, you better have some extra time in the morning to de-fog the car.
Get into the habit of taking all water bottles and beverages out of your car each day to avoid worsening the state of your car.
In poor weather or road conditions, it's imperative to utilize defensive driving skills to make sure you’re being as safe as possible. Anticipate any potentially dangerous situations and be acutely aware of your surroundings, making sure to give yourself more than enough space between any hazards or fellow drivers.
“Accelerate slowly, give yourself room to stop in time in case of ice. Don't rush into a green light if the side roads haven't stopped yet- they might slide out!” Odometer writes of using defensive driving in the winter. “Don't floor it out of a ditch and get yourself more stuck by digging holes with your tires. Don't tailgate! (ever!) Don't slam on the brakes if you start to swerve- adjust slowly, and hopefully, you gave yourself enough room to regain control if you weren't tailgating.”