Are you planning to go on a winter road trip? Maybe you want to hit the slopes or take advantage of an off-season deal? If so, here are four tips to help you prepare for the journey.
1. Plan for delays
Poor road conditions can significantly slow you down or force you to delay your trip. Additionally, daylight is limited during the winter, which means you may have to shorten your afternoon driving time to avoid battling blizzards, black ice, and freezing rain in the dark. For these reasons, be prepared to take extra time to reach your destination.
2. Do your research
Before you get behind the wheel, make sure to check the weather forecast. This will prevent you from getting caught off-guard in a storm. In addition, you should check the local traffic report. Under extreme conditions, certain highways may be closed, which could force you to backtrack or take an alternate route. It’s a good idea to do your due diligence before hitting the road.
3. Inspect your vehicle
If you’re taking a long trip in winter, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle inspected by a professional. A mechanic will make sure everything is in good working order so you don’t run into any unexpected engine problems along the way.
4. Pack an emergency kit
On top of packing everything you want to have with you for your trip, save some space in your trunk for winter road tripping gear such as a shovel, tow rope, jumper cables, traction aids, warm clothes, flashlights, food and water, wiper fluid and more. This equipment could help get you out of trouble if you find yourself in a tight spot.
In addition, road signs can become completely covered in snow, making it difficult to navigate. Consequently, before leaving for your winter road trip, it’s a good idea to pack a physical map or download an offline copy of a Google Map for reference.
Summer vs. winter windshield washer fluid
The type of windshield washer fluid you use should vary by season. This is because each type has unique properties that are designed for specific weather conditions. Here’s what you should know about windshield washer fluid for summer and winter.
Summer windshield washer fluid
Summer windshield washer fluid contains specially formulated cleaning agents for a streak-free shine. In addition, it effectively removes bugs, dust, and dirt from your windshield to ensure you can see clearly at all times. However, this type of washer fluid is not suitable for use in winter, as it’s likely to freeze.
Winter windshield washer fluid
Winter windshield washer fluid contains a de-icer, which makes it effective at cleaning your windshield even if the temperature dips to -40 F. This fluid won’t form ice crystals on your windshield or freeze in your tank. However, you should avoid using it during the summer as it contains a lot of methanol. This substance easily evaporates in warm weather and can therefore increase your VOC emissions if you use it year-round.
Finally, not all windshield washer fluids are created equal. For example, some have water-repellent properties to keep your windshield clear when it rains. Keep in mind that you can save money by purchasing a high-quality product, as you won’t have to use as much of it.
How to use a spare tire
A spare tire typically weighs between 20 and 45 pounds and should only be used temporarily in an emergency. When driving with one, it’s important to take precautions.
Before hitting the road, make sure you check your owner’s manual to find out how far and fast you can drive with your spare tire. Driving for too long with a spare can potentially cause damage to other parts of your vehicle.
Furthermore, if you want your spare tire to do its job and get you out of trouble when the time comes, it’s a good idea to inspect it regularly. You can do this by examining your spare when having your other tires rotated and before going on long road trips.
Did you know?
Some automakers have removed the spare tire from their vehicles entirely in favor of a tire repair kit to reduce the weight of the vehicle and free up more storage space.
How to choose the right vehicle for winter
If you want to upgrade your vehicle and are looking for a dependable model that can help you safely navigate winter roads, here are a few things to consider.
When driving on icy, snow-covered roads, four-wheel drive is considered the safest. An all-wheel-drive system will automatically distribute power to the wheels based on the road conditions, thereby optimizing your vehicle’s traction.
In addition, high ground clearance is a useful feature as it allows you to tackle large snowdrifts with ease. A bit of height also prevents you from floating on top of the snow and will help ensure you stay in control of your vehicle.
Types of vehicles
Depending on your needs, budget, and preferences, there are a number of vehicles that have winter-friendly features.
• Cars are now available with all-wheel drive. In addition, the low center of gravity will work in your favor on slippery roads.
• SUVs have good ground clearance, making them ideal for winter driving, provided they have all-wheel drive. However, SUVs that lack four-wheel drive may provide a false sense of security.
• Pickup trucks offer good elevation for driving in the snow. However, their weight makes them difficult to maneuver on the ice. Additionally, the high center of gravity can cause you to spin out if you’re not careful.
• Electric vehicles have a very low center of gravity, which makes winter driving a breeze. What’s more, electric motors are capable of efficiently managing wheel slips. On some models, the front and rear wheels are controlled by different motors for added reliability.
When shopping for a new vehicle, don’t be afraid to ask questions. This will help you determine which model best meets your needs.
Vehicle insurance coverage requirements change January 1
Beginning January 1, the minimum insurance coverage required for vehicles in Virginia will increase.
Senate Bill 1182 raises the minimum insurance coverage requirements over the next three years to the following:
|Liability Insurance Coverage Requirements|
|Injury or death of one person||Injury or death of two or more people||Property damage|
|Policies effective Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2024||$30,000||$60,000||$20,000|
|Policies effective on or after Jan. 1, 2025||$50,000||$100,000||$25,000|
This bill applies to vehicle insurance policies issued or renewed on or after January 1, 2022.
To purchase license plates and title and register a vehicle in Virginia, a customer must certify the vehicle is covered by the minimum insurance requirements or pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee.
Vehicle owners caught driving without insurance or who have not paid the Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee will have their driving and vehicle registration privileges suspended (Code of Virginia § 46.2-707). To have those privileges reinstated, they must pay a $600 noncompliance fee, file a Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate (SR-22) with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for three years, and pay a reinstatement fee.
Virginia drivers are encouraged to contact their vehicle insurance provider to ensure they have the minimum insurance coverage on their vehicles.
7 ways to get your car ready for winter
Winter roads can be hazardous and unpredictable. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Here are a few ways you can make sure your car is ready for winter.
1. Fix paint chips on the outside of your vehicle to prevent corrosion. You can get an exact match of the paint shade used on your vehicle from your local mechanic or car dealership.
2. Stock your roadside emergency kit. It’s a good idea to include items such as a shovel, tow rope, jumper cables, flares, matches, traction aids, flashlights, warm clothing, an emergency blanket, and a first aid kit. Remember to keep the lock de-icer on you, instead of in the car.
3. Bring your car to a professional to have the spark plugs, brakes, fluid levels, and block heater inspected before the cold weather hits. This will ensure everything is in good working order and help keep you safe on the road.
4. Repair chips in your windshield. Even a minor dent can weaken your windshield, causing it to crack during the winter due to the drastic difference in temperature between the outside and inside of your car.
5. Install rubber mats to help prevent your interior carpeting from becoming caked with mud, dirt, and snow. If your car’s flooring becomes waterlogged with melted snow, it can fog up your windows. Remember to shake out your boots before getting in the car.
6. Make an appointment for a rustproofing treatment to protect your vehicle from corrosion. This is especially important if you park your car in a heated garage.
7. Lubricate your car’s rubber door seals with a silicone spray. This will prevent your doors from freezing shut in the cold and ensure your seals remain in good condition.
You may also want to invest in a roadside assistance membership for added peace of mind.
How to prevent impaired driving over the holidays
The number of impaired driving collisions dramatically increases over the holiday season. Here are a few tips to make sure neither you nor the people you care about get behind the wheel while under the influence.
Attending a party
If you’re attending a holiday shindig, make sure to choose someone to be a designated driver. If this person ends up consuming drugs or alcohol, play it safe by calling a cab or using a ridesharing service. You could also plan to rent a room at a nearby hotel or sleepover at a friend’s house to avoid getting behind the wheel.
Hosting a party
If you’re hosting a holiday party, there are a few precautions you can take to make sure your guests don’t drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For example, serve plenty of food and provide alcohol-free beverages throughout the night. In addition, offer your spare bedroom or couch to anyone who wants to stay the night, or pre-arrange cab rides for those who need a lift.
Tips for the road
When driving home from a holiday shindig, keep an eye out for the following warning signs that another driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol:
• They’re making wide, abrupt, or illegal turns
• They have a slow or delayed reaction time to traffic lights and signs
• They’re driving unreasonably fast, slow, or at an inconsistent speed
• They’re continuously weaving, swerving, or drifting out of their lane
If you suspect you’re driving behind an impaired driver, slow down, stay behind them and when it’s safe to do so, pull over and call 911.
Additionally, impaired driving accidents that result in fatalities are more likely to happen very late at night or early in the morning. Therefore, try to avoid being on the road between midnight and 3 a.m.