Top 7 Winter Driving Tips

Well, it came a little earlier than expected… S-N-O-W… Our friends in Calgary are already breaking records. The weather is pretty unpredictable at this time of year so we thought we would refresh your memory about safe driving habits in the winter.

7. Clear Off Your Vehicle

You started your car, it’s nice and toasty for the upcoming drive. You hop in and use your wipers to wipe the snow out of your line of vision.


Scrape all the frost and ice from your windows. Completely brush all the snow off your vehicle. It’s especially important for the windows, lights, and license plate to be cleared. It’s not just for your safety, but for others around you. If they can’t see your lights, especially winter driving in a blizzard, they can’t see you. And if you can’t see out the windows, it’s not beneficial to just guess when it’s safe to proceed. Take a few extra minutes in the morning to clear all the snow off your car and give yourself the most opportunity to get to your destination safely (it will save you time compared to getting into a collision!)

6. Prepare For Emergencies

An emergency can happen anytime. It could be something simple but if you’re in your vehicle for an extended amount of time, it would be smart to have a lightweight shovel, battery jumper cables, flashlight, cell charger, and a blanket. These items can help you if your vehicle stalls or if it needs to be turned off for a while, and if you need to call someone for help.

5. Take Your Time

The best idea is to leave earlier than normal to avoid being late. You need to allow time to clear your vehicle, warm it, and drive a little slower when it’s icy and snowy. This will allow you to be free of the stress of being late and reduce the temptation to go faster to get where you need to be. Plus, it’s better to be a few minutes late than to not make it at all because you were in an accident.

4. Pay Attention to the Road

While you’re on the road, pay attention to your surroundings. Anticipate your move, and others’ if you can, and allow yourself lots of room for turns and stopping. You’ll be able to drive smoother and avoid making abrupt stops or turns, which could result in collisions, so that everyone can make it to their destination safely.

3. Lights Lights Lights!

Ensure your vehicle’s lights are on whenever you are driving, not just at night. Having your lights on at all times improves visibility and allows other drivers to see you, even in blizzard conditions. Some vehicles have daytime running lights – great! – but many do not have tail lights on when daytimes are on. It’s best to just make it a habit to have front and rear lights on. If you’re not sure, do a quick walkaround of your vehicle (easy to do when you’re brushing snow) and make sure all your lights work.

2. It’s All About Control

Ice and snow make it really challenging to drive. Particularly ice. When you’re accelerating from a stop, don’t slam on the gas. You’ll go nowhere. Ease off the brake, let your vehicle start rolling forward and then slowly press the accelerator to get going.

Same thing when you’re coming to a halt; take your foot off the gas and slowly brake. Slamming on the brake will cause the vehicle to slide. If you have ABS (anti-lock braking system) apply constant pressure so the system can do its job – don’t ‘pump’ the brakes. Lastly, don’t use cruise control if it’s snowy, icy, or wet. If you begin to hydroplane, your car will try to accelerate instead of slow down which could lead to loss of control of your vehicle.

1. Purchase a Good Set of Winter Tires

Who knew this would be number one?? When the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius, the rubber in your tires begins to harden. When it is too hard, the tire cannot grip the road, snow, or ice and will not help you get through the winter.

But I have all-season tires!

Do you? There are imposters with that name. All-season tires are great for places that do not get cold and snowy quite like we do. All-seasons are tested and intended for places a that don’t dip into Arctic freezing temperatures. They are fine on dry or wet, rainy pavement but begin to harden at 7 degrees Celsius and become potentially dangerous below -10 degrees. What you probably have are three-season tires. They perform well in spring, summer, and autumn, but will not do well once the snow flies.

If you truly want a year-round tire, consider all-weather tires. They perform well on dry pavement and decent on snowy or icy pavement, and hold up above and below 7 degrees Celsius. They’re still not as good as winters, but they’re better than the others! The downside is that because they’re used all year long, they will likely wear out faster than if you switched between summer and winter tires.

If you really want to make your tires last and have the best experience during the frigid season we call winter, invest in a good set of winter tires. You’ll be able to make both sets of tires last longer since you’re only using them for about 6 months out of the year! Winter tires are made from the most flexible rubber, offering the best performance on snow and ice. Their widely-spaced tread allows them to claw through snow so you can get where you need to be, regardless of the weather.


At Capital GMC Buick, we want to make sure you get where you need to be this wintery season so use these tips as a reminder to be safe and smart while winter driving!

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