Winter is coming to a close (thankfully), and we here at Crucial Vacuum join the entire northern hemisphere in a collective sigh of relief that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. (Seriously. The groundhog as a weather prognosticator is a grand tradition) However, there are still quite a few wintry and blustery days and below freezing temperatures on many nights ahead of us. When it comes to being safe on the roads, we are bombarded with a lot of information. Some of it makes sense, like not using your cellphone while driving. Some of it makes us wonder, like being told to underinflate your tires for additional traction. How do you keep track of what is or isn’t a valid safety tip? To help you with that, here are four of the most common winter driving myths you’ll hear when it comes to staying safe on the winter roads.
1. Underinflate your tires for more traction
We’ve all heard this winter driving myth from someone. Let out the air in your tires because it’s going to make your tires wider, which will increase your traction on the snow. Sure, that’s technically correct, but in most cases, it’s a bad idea. Here’s the reason why. Where do you do most of your winter driving? Is it on snow that’s packed down to a foot or more? Or is it on streets and highways that have seen a plow or two and maybe gotten a coat of salt or sand? Chances are it’s the latter. On normal streets, underinflated tires get hotter a lot faster than properly inflated tires. Hotter tires blow out more frequently. So you can see why this is a bad idea. Additionally, a properly inflated tire has a chance to cut through new snow to get to the delicious pavement underneath. Speaking of tires…
2. Winter tires are a waste of money
If you live in Florida, then no, you should not invest in winter tires. If you live somewhere where the winter is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, winter tires will save you money and time. They may also save you from an accident. Here’s why. A winter tire is generally narrower than a summer tire. This narrower profile allows the tire to get through the loose powder and grab onto something that will give you more control. Additionally, the rubber is softer. The soft rubber allows it to grip the road better than a normal cruising tire. Test show that winter tires can improve braking ability by up to 25 percent. Even if your area doesn’t get snow, you’ll still get better handling in low temperatures with a winter tire.
3. AWD and ABS will keep you safe always.
All Wheel Drive is great for everyday driving, which is why it’s fast becoming an option for all new cars. ABS is also amazing, as it keeps your wheels from locking while braking. A common winter driving myth is that these two superpowers combine to make you invulnerable on ice and snow. Truthfully, neither is going to keep you from an accident if you don’t take some precautions. ABS is only as good as the tires allow it to be. If there’s no friction or traction between your tires and the road, you’re not going to stop any sooner. And if your tires don’t have any grab, that AWD isn’t going to give you any more control. Be aware of how bad your roads are and drive accordingly. Just remember to brake early and often.
4. Don’t bother warming up your car on cold mornings
Let’s be clear. There’s a difference between warming your car’s interior and warming the engine. The former is a luxury; the latter is a necessity, especially on mornings that are below freezing. Your engine relies on all numbers of fluids: oil, steering fluid, and brake fluid among others. Even though they don’t freeze, at low temperatures, they turn into sludge and have reduced efficiency. Giving your engine time to warm up and fluids to warm is more than convenience; it prevents damage that can occur from running a cold engine with minimal lubrication.
So there you have them. Four of the most common winter driving myths you’re going to hear about winter driving and why they’re rubbish. Spring is almost here, but there is still officially another month of winter before it gets here. Drive safe and as Sergeant Esterhaus always said, “Hey. Let’s be careful out there.” From your friends at Crucial Vacuum, safe driving!