The Importance of All-Wheel Drive Vehicles in Winter

All-Wheel Drive Vehicles

When winter rolls in, drivers need to start thinking about what preventative measures to take in order to get themselves safe and their vehicles functioning properly. Things like performing routine maintenance, swapping out all-season tires for winter tires, and making sure your HVAC system is working properly are all crucial elements to preparing for winter. But other drivers may take it a step further and wonder if all-wheel drive vehicles are more suitable to the slippery roads of winter.

The number one benefit, and possibly the most obvious one, is that AWD comes with increased traction over other modes of driving. AWD allows all four wheels to spin independently, so if a one or two wheels lose traction or slip, the other wheels can still pull the vehicle forward. This comes in handy on icy roads during hazardous winter storms. Modern technology also calls for innovations in AWD systems; many AWD vehicles now function on computer systems that allocate more power to wheels with better traction. Additionally, AWD makes for excellent resale value, so someday when you need to sell your vehicle, it will be worth more.

As with any extra, beneficial features, all-wheel drive vehicles typically cost more than other types and lower the mpg of a given vehicle, but many drivers find that the added peace of mind that accompanies AWD systems pays off in the end. If you are in the market for a new car with the winter months coming up, you may be better off looking for a car with all-wheel drive.

The Importance of Winter Driving Safety

winter, tips, safety

With winter coming up, drivers may start to worry about potential hazards posed by winter weather like snow and ice. Truthfully, the safest way to deal with these hazards is to simply avoid them. Listen to snow emergencies and closures and stay inside when you can. However, for many people, staying in is not a possibility. In that case, winter driving safety is good to know when braving the slippery roads.

Oftentimes, a change of tires can make all the difference. Cold temperatures can reduce the malleability of rubber, making normal tires more prone to sliding. Old, worn tires should be replaced anyway, even if you aren’t interested in seasonal snow tires. Traction can have a big influence on how far you slide while stopping.

Either way, drivers should be cautious while stopping, as vehicles will take longer to come to a full stop and sudden starts will cause fishtailing on slippery roads. If you do happen to slide, don’t hit the brakes or gas – ease off and turn into the direction you are sliding. Overall, be slow and cautious when stopping behind another vehicle or passing them.

Winter driving safety and maintaining a cautious and defensive outlook can prevent many emergencies and accidents in the colder months. Being prepared and exercising these simple tips can keep you getting where you’re going safely. However, keep in mind that it’s always better to stay home or be late than put yourself in potentially life-threatening danger.

Winter Fuel Efficiency

Adopting effective driving practices increases fuel efficiency at any time of year, but it’s even more important during the winter months.  Your car’s fuel efficiency can decrease by as much as 50 percent in cold weather. Wasting fuel not only impacts your pocketbook, it can pollute the environment as well.

Losing Weight

While carrying a few extra pounds in the back of your car or truck might help you gain traction in snowy weather, the added cargo also reduces winter fuel efficiency. Removing weight can increase your vehicle’s gas mileage.  It can also help to remove snow and ice from the outside of your car before driving.  You can remove unnecessary weight and eliminate excessive use of  the defroster.

Follow-Up

Become a “follower” while driving, and you’ll increase gas mileage. Even a light dusting of snow creates resistance, and your vehicle must work harder to drive through it. If possible, wait until after the roads have been plowed, or drive in the tire tracks that other cars have created.

Head for Cover

Parking your car in a garage during winter months keeps keeps it warmer while it’s not in use.  This can allow the engine to rise  to the optimal temperature more quickly. Running your car for 30 seconds sufficiently warms the engine enough to drive, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; anything beyond that simply wastes fuel. Allow the rest of your vehicle to warm up by driving it. Proceed slowly for the first three miles; your entire car will reach peak temperature without wasting fuel.

Idle Conversation

It’s tempting to leave the car — and the heat — running when it’s cold outside.  However, if you think you’ll be sitting still for longer than 10 seconds, turn the car off instead of idling. Your car consumes more gas running for 10 seconds than it does when you turn it off and restart the engine. Cutting down idling time is a simple way to save extra fuel during winter, while also being easier on your car’s engine.

Plan Ahead

Maximize mileage by planning ahead before driving. Try to schedule errands together to avoid making several short trips, and use the most efficient route. Unless you expect to stay at one of your stops for an extended period of time, your vehicle’s engine will stay warm enough for you to restart it and head to your next destination without interruption.