Home > Ask Gary > With this record-breaking snowfall, what are your best tips for winter safety and caring for my vehicle?

With this record-breaking snowfall, what are your best tips for winter safety and caring for my vehicle?

JaffarianLotinSnowWith the horrible conditions upon us with record-breaking snowfall in a short period of time, I am happy to give you my best tips, starting with staying off the road whenever possible during inclement weather.

On Sunday, after the roads were cleared, many people took to the major highways, thinking they were safe. While they may have been down to nearly-bare pavement, there was a major multi-vehicle crash on Route 128 in Waltham from white-out conditions caused by the wind blowing snow across the highway. I cannot emphasize enough to stay off the roads, even after major storms are over, until you know the roads and travel conditions are safe.

There are so many things in your control – your driving habits and keeping your vehicle maintenance schedule up-to-date. Here is a list of all the things you can do to maximize your safety.

1. This first tip is a matter of life or death – be sure you remove snow from your exhaust pipe(s).

2. Be sure to remove snow from the roof of your vehicle. Many people are complaining that snow from other vehicles, including commercial trucks, flies off roofs and hits their windshield, causing moments of blind driving. Please clean off your vehicle roof as much as possible.

3. If you get into a skid, turn your wheel into the skid. Never slam on the brakes.

4. If you’re stuck on a hill, downshift for better traction, whether you drive an automatic or standard. Don’t drive up icy or snowy hills by trying to over-accelerate. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. But don’t stop on the hill, or you may slide down. Get your momentum on the flat road and keep going as you approach the hill. As you reach the top of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible.

5. Be sure to carry the following as part of your own emergency kit: windshield washer, flashlight, water, snacks, snowbrush, ice scraper, small snow shovel, and a wool blanket. Consider purchasing jumper cables and an emergency roadside kit from an auto parts or department store. They can come in handy any time of year. Keep sand or cat litter in your trunk for traction in case you get stuck.
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6. Choose your speed according to the weather conditions. Driving at the speed limit can be unsafe and dangerous. If special highway signs post new speed limits, as they often do on highways and the Mass. Pike, use that speed as your limit, or even slower.

7. Stay focused on driving, even more than usual – no talking on the cell, eating or doing anything that takes a hand off the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel and focus.

8. Slow down to a very low speed before turning or going around a bend to keep control of your vehicle on icy roads. When turning from a side street onto a main street, inch out very slowly as the high snow banks totally impair ability to see around the corner. In this weather, allow extra travel time, as you cannot drive like you are accustomed to driving. Every turn is potentially dangerous because of the mountainous snow banks.

9. Check your tires for proper inflation and tread wear. Your tires (and brakes) are more important in this weather than anything else. Get new tires if the treads are worn. We can check the tire pressure and measure treads at Jaffarian’s Service Department.

10. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good working order. Heavy duty or winter blades are highly recommended.

11. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle ahead of you whether you are on side streets, main roads or the highway. With the streets being slushy and snowy, when you brake, you may find yourself sliding. Press brakes firmly and hold, but avoid slamming on the brakes. Tapping or pumping the brakes is not the best solution with anti-lock brakes, which most vehicles now have.

12. If your vehicle is about 5+ years old, check your battery.

13. Be sure to check your antifreeze with each oil change or service appointment.

14. Check your brakes and have your service technician check for leaks or worn hoses. Jaffarian’s Service Department is happy to perform these extra checks with each service visit.

Please follow all of the tips here to maximize your safety. As much as we’d like to think we couldn’t possibly get any more snow, there is another one or two snow events predicted for the coming week.

Drive safely and stay alert!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary
  1. Guy from that thing
    February 19, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    Great post. Excellent advice on the minutiae of driving in conditions such as this.

    I feel grateful these subtleties were etched into my DNA when I learned to drive by my cop dad and bus driver mom–details that are so important but easy to overlook or not always obvious to some. It can mean the difference between life and death, and often does.

    Great read for motorists of all ages and types in New England–from the most savage masshole who drives one hand on the wheel one on the horn, to the most oblivious blue head out for a sleepy Sunday stroll.

    • March 15, 2015 at 7:57 PM

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback. I appreciate that you read my blog. I hope you signed up with your email. It’s easy enough to get it delivered to your inbox once a week, never more than that. You can go to http://www.jaffarian.com and click on the Ask Gary icon at the top and scroll down to see all previous blogs and there is a place to put in your email on the top right of the page. Thanks again. Gary Jaffarian

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