Having to drive in less than ideal weather conditions is just something you come to expect when you’re living in West Michigan. Fog, rain, sleet, snow and ice are bound to happen eventually, with freezing accumulations increasing during the long months of winter. While many people consider themselves adept behind the wheel of their car or SUV on snow covered roads, you might be surprised to discover you’ve been buying into common misconceptions surrounding your vehicle in cold weather. Today, we’re discussing 6 Common Driving Myths In Winter…
All Season Tires Are Fine
Tires are the only 4 points of contact between your vehicle and the road beneath it, and it’s not unreasonable to expect them to keep you safe regardless of road conditions. But contrary to what the name implies, All Weather Tires are not meant to perform at their best in cold weather. Many people assume that Winter Tires are unnecessary if they have All Season Tires already but that simply isn’t the case. The rubber on All Season Tires can harden in temperatures below 45°, whereas Winter Tires remain flexible, allowing for as much as 50% more traction. And when you’re in a slippery situation, that could be the difference between making it safely to your destination or ending up in a ditch!
Winter Tires hold another advantage over All Season Tires. Winter Tires have special treads designed with deep grooves and small slits called sipes that grip the road better on snow and ice. Not only do these sipes aid in your vehicle gaining traction to move forward but they also help in stopping it faster than All Season Tires in winter. In fact, an incredible 30-40% faster than All Season Tires. Who knew tires could make such a big difference??
All Wheel Drive Makes Your Vehicle Invincible
One of the widest misconceptions we find among people concerning winter driving is that All Wheel Drive or 4×4 vehicles are safer on snow or ice and this idea often creates an overly confident attitude behind the wheel on slick roads. While some consider All Wheel Drive vehicles better at handling than 2 wheel drive vehicles, the truth is that the all wheel drive feature is really only improving acceleration. By diverting the engines power to the tires that have the most traction, all wheel drive vehicles are able to accelerate faster but the secret of maintaining control truly lies in the tires ability to grip the road beneath it and that job is held solely by the tires on your car or truck.
Under Inflated Tires Drive Better
In theory, we have to admit this myth makes sense. It’s just in practical everyday life that it falls apart. The idea is that by letting air out of your tires, you’re increasing the surface area of rubber making contact directly with the road and thereby increasing your traction. But oddly enough, increased width in snow actually does the opposite. Thinner tires actually perform better in snow and under-inflated tires compromise handling. Always keep your tire pressure at the recommended psi through all seasons and check often in colder temperatures to make sure they maintain that pressure as air becomes more compact the colder it becomes.
Gas Mileage Is Unaffected By The Cold
Winter driving and cold weather can significantly affect your gas mileage in many ways. As we discussed above, the cold can decrease the pressure in your tires and under-inflated tires simply do not perform to their fullest potential. Also, the cold saps your engines warmth, taking it longer to heat up, and decreasing its fuel efficiency. Not to mention, the 5 minutes of letting it idle in the parking lot every time you go to drive adds up fast! Driving times are also lengthened by decreasing your speed on those slippery, snow covered roads. While it may lower your miles per gallon average, we certainly advocate getting there safely over driving too fast on slippery roads.
ABS Allows You To Brake Faster
Antilock Braking Systems were first introduced in cars and trucks in 1970 but didn’t become a federally mandated safety feature until 2012 by the US government. ABS works by using wheel speed sensors if one or more wheels are trying to lock up. If it senses a wheel is trying to lock up, a series of hydraulic valves work to limit or reduce the braking on that individual wheel. This safety feature prevents skidding and allows the driver to maintain control. Before the advancement of ABS, drivers used a ‘pump the brakes’ method to try and accomplish this manually. While ABS asserts the ability to stop as soon as possible, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to stop on a dime or the way you would on dry pavement. The best way to avoid having to stop short is to give yourself plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you and brake sooner when coming to a stoplight or sign.
Snow Need Only Be Removed From Windshield
Everyone has seen that car coming down the road with a mountain of snow still on the roof of their vehicle. Don’t be that guy. Not only can the snow and ice fly back onto the vehicle behind you but it can slide forward onto your windshield if you brake, both causing diminished visibility to the driver. Less than ideal when you’re behind the wheel of a 4,000 lb vehicle! Do yourself and others on the road a favor and take a minute more to clear off the snow from your hood, windshield, and roof of your vehicle. And just as important, don’t forget about those headlights and taillights!
Broadmoor Motors can save you time and money on the purchase of your next quality, pre-owned vehicle and on your next car rental. Whether you need a short term car rental, long term car rental, a replacement while your vehicle is getting serviced or simply need to replace your car, truck or SUV with a great used vehicle, we can help you out. Family owned & operated, with a reputation for quality vehicles at great prices, we’re here for all your Car Rental, Car Sales, and Service needs in the greater Grand Rapids area. Give us a call at 616.698.9595 to see how we can get you back on the road!