Are four-wheel drive SUVs better equipped to handle winter driving conditions? Maybe, but SUV drivers “ like all drivers on the road “ need to be cautious during the upcoming holiday season with winter’s unpredictable weather conditions. Follow these SUV-specific winter driving techniques to avoid accidents when the sleet, snow, and ice come this winter.
“Because SUVs are big, they often carry a perception of invincibility,” says Trisha Hessinger, national spokeswoman for Firestone Tire & Service Centers Car Care Academies. “But even though SUVs and four-wheel-drive can be an asset in snow and icy winter driving, they come with an increased responsibility of which all drivers should be aware.”
Firestone Tire & Service Centers offers a few tips for SUV drivers to bear in mind.
Tips for Safe Winter SUV Driving
1. Brake With Caution And Earlier: SUVs can weigh as much as two to three times a typical car. Braking can make stopping on sleet or ice-covered roadways tricky. Stay aware of the distance between you and the cars in front and behind you and begin your braking sequence earlier than normal.
2. Watch Your Fuel: Driving in four-wheel drive will burn gas faster than normal driving. During colder months, fill up more often to keep your gas tank at least half full. The fuel reserve will be important if you get stuck in holiday traffic, plus it will add more weight to your vehicle which will help with traction on the road.
3. Turn With Care: Because of its powerful engine, a four-wheel drive SUV may get up to speed faster from a stop than many smaller cars. Be sure to allow for this faster pick-up and possibly the higher center of gravity of the vehicle when turning corners or making lane changes. If you’re approaching a turn while in motion, brake earlier than normal, remove your foot from the brake at the beginning of the turn and steer into the curve. Turning with care will provide the most tire grip to avoid skidding or sliding sideways. This tip is important to remember in all seasons.
4. Watch Your Tires: Four-wheel drive doesn’t guarantee good traction. All four of your tires need to have good tread and be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended air pressure. As the winter months get colder the air in tires contract which reduces the tire air pressure one pound per square inch for each 10-degree drop in temperature; check your inflation pressure more frequently during the cold months. Under-inflation will lessen the gripping action because the tire tread will not meet the road surface as designed to do.
5. Don’t Be Overconfident: SUVs are seen as big and tough, but they’re not invincible and come with extra responsibilities. Practice safe, defensive driving techniques all winter long and always wear a seat belt.
Other Important Winter Driving Tips For ALL Drivers:
* Take your car to a certified automotive technician to check that the tires, brakes, engine, battery, exhaust system and the heating and defrosting systems are in good working order.
* Maintain vehicles fluids including engine oil, radiator coolant, brake, transmission, window washer and power steering fluids to the recommended levels.
* If there’s snow on your car, take advantage of the time you’re scraping off the windows to let your car warm up. Turn on the heater and defroster.
* Check that your lights and turn signals are in good working order.
Before driving your car, make sure it’s windshield wipers aren’t frozen.
* Allow extra travel time if the weather is severe.
* Keep both hands on the wheel when driving; avoid jerky steering and quick lane changes.
* Slow down.
* Be mindful when driving over bridges and overpasses. They freeze up earlier and stay frozen longer.