Let’s face it! Nothing beats driving over a fresh patch of asphalt, on an empty road, while the summer sun is shining everywhere. The amount of grip you’re getting, the smoothness of the tires, the swooshing of the air around the car, it is all too good to be true.
Then, There’s Winter Driving
Sun is hiding away behind a thick layer of gray clouds that won’t stop dropping snowflakes, the black asphalt is now covered in slippery snow and black ice, and what’s with all this fog? Truth is, winter driving is not as fun as driving through summer. However, there is no reason to be a hellish experience.
We have put together a list of 10 tools that will make your winter driving experience better. Being able to prevent slipping or having the means to get out of a ditch will make a world of difference out there. Check out the list below and let us know which tool you think is the most important to have.
1. Quality Winter Tires
Let’s get one thing clear. It doesn’t matter how many driver assistance systems and tech gimmicks your car has. Grip is still at the mercy of four patches slightly larger than one’s hand. The rectangular contact patch between the tire and the ground is everything that is keeping your car going or getting it to stop safely.
Don’t skip out on winter tires as they might actually save your life when driving. Invest in a premium brand of tires that fit your vehicle. Use an independent comparison website to make your choice, or check local automotive magazines. These generally test most known tire brands against each other, allowing you to make an informed decision.
The perks of quality winter tires include better grip on snow and black ice, considerably shorter braking distance and better handling.
2. Tire Chains
When snow is freshly laid and of considerable thickness, things get messy on the road. It is common for smaller cars to be unable to gain traction on fresh snow. If you live somewhere closer to the countryside, with less traffic than usual, chances are your car will need some help getting up that freshly snowed-upon hill. Even the best winter tires will break grip at some point. This is where tire chains come in.
By creating a rougher surface between the tire and the road, chains will immediately improve traction both on snow and black ice. Go for a set that you can easily mount without having to jack your car up. This is a good choice whenever you don’t mount tire chains before you leave home.
Sometimes you leave your car parked outside overnight at snow falls at a high rate. In the morning you end up with a literal barrier of snow surrounding your car. With no chance of breaking through just by engine power, you have to start digging. Keep a durable snow shovel in your car for situations like these.
While there are plenty of plastic options available in most stores, invest in a foldable steel shovel. This way, you won’t have to worry about hitting rocks hidden beneath the snow and breaking the shovel, leaving you stranded. Furthermore, a good foldable shovel won’t take much space in your trunk.
4. Traction Mat
Traction mats are another option to get your car out of snow. You will have to shovel out some snow from the from of your motor wheels, the fit the mats as close as possible to the tire. Thanks to their grippy surface, your car’s wheels will get enough momentum to dig itself out of a snowy situation.
5. Tow Chain/Rope
When things get bad, a little bit of help is highly appreciated. Whether you’re the one being helped or helping someone else get out of a snowy situation, a proper tow chain or rope goes a long way. Go for a tow chain or rope that it is rated at least for your vehicle’s weight, preferably higher. Check that your car has a tow screw, it is usually located near the spare wheel. Also check that you can easily open the cap where the tow screw goes in in front of the car so you won’t have to deal with it when it’s freezing and snowing.
6. Jumper Cables or External Battery
If cold strikes, usually the first thing to give out on your car is the battery. This is especially true if we are discussing about an old, worn car battery. These tend to drop power quickly during cold days. As a consequence, the car starter won’t have enough power to get the frozen engine running. To solve this issue, pack a set of jumper cables with your car tools. Jumper cables can be used to draw power from a running car to get yours started. Ideally, you should consider an external battery. This removes the need for another vehicle to start up your car by packing an extra boost of electrons ready to power your car’s starter motor.
7. Gloves and Blanket
If worse comes to worst during winter, you best be prepared. Ending up stuck on the side of the road with no chance of getting out soon means cold is your greatest enemy. For those really cold winter days, pack a blanket and pair of gloves in your survival kit.
Ideally, you can go for an electric blanket that will boost heat rather than just insulate it. However, a quality blanket will ensure your body temperature will remain within the functioning range for longer. Extremities will be the first to lose heat, so a pair of gloves will go a long way into keep your hands functioning.
8. Hand Warmers
If your hands already got very cold and wet, chances are a pair of gloves won’t get them warmed back quickly. The discomfort will be high unless you can get your extremities back to temperature. Getting a set of disposable hand warmers is a quick and cheap way to solve this issue. These pouches will warm up in an instant and can last up to eight hours.
9. Water and Non-Perishable Food
Even though you may not have to go through intense efforts while waiting out the snow or heavy winds, hydration and sustenance is still important. Make sure to pack at least a bottle of water and some non-perishable foods during winter days. Power bars generally work well and last for a long time. It would be advisable to keep water in an insulated container so it doesn’t freeze.
Heavy snow and fog make it very difficult to see and be seen out on the road. If you’re stuck by the side of the road and waiting for help, a good way to signal your position from a distance is to use a flare. It’s recommended to use the type of flare that can be easily propped into snow or held in hand. These will emit a very bright light up to 60 seconds, allowing rescue vehicles nearby to figure out your position in low-visibility conditions.
We suggest analyzing the list above and choosing the elements that makes the most sense for your driving habits and conditions you will be facing.
What’s your take on the list? Is there a winter tool that you always pack in your car that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below. Make sure to share this article if you enjoyed it!