Snow driving tips

There are certain topics that arise every year on this editorial page. And the first snow of the year always occasions a friendly commentary on how to drive when the white stuff hits the road. This year, the tips come from Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers from NPR’s Car Talk show. For the complete feature on winter driving, check out

1. If your car needs regular service, get it done now.

2. Make sure your battery and charging system are up to snuff.

3. Check the cooling system.

4. If you have leaks in the cooling system, take care of them now.

5. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good shape.

6. Keep your gas tank close to full. In the summer, you can take a chance and run down to fumes. It’s cold in the winter, though.

7. Make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full.

8. A lot of folks ask about carrying sand in the back of the car. With a front-wheel drive car, don’t bother. In rear-wheel drive cars, add weight incrementally to test handling. Start with 20 pounds.

9. Think about adding a block heater to your engine.

10. Make sure your rear-window defroster works.

11. Know your car.

12. If you really have to drive in the snow.

13. Make sure you have some basic supplies in your car in case you do get stuck.

14. Winter driving emergencies are among the few legitimate uses for a cellular phone.

15. If you’re in an area that permits or requires tire chains, they should obviously be in the trunk, too.

16. Clean off your car—completely.

17. When driving in the snow, do everything slowly.

18. If you’re thinking about buying a new car, think about safety features that will help in lousy weather.

That’s it from Tom and Ray. We driving experts here at the World Headquarters of the Reno News & Review have a few ideas to add.

1. Drive defensively. Let’s face it, not everyone is going to read this editorial, and there are a lot of people on the road inadequately prepared for driving in snow. Back way off the people in front of you, slow down to a reasonable speed on the freeways, brake (particularly on downslopes) far earlier than you would on dry pavement.

2. If you begin to skid, take your foot off the accelerator. Steer in the direction you want the car to go. You may also want to drive in a lower gear to get the benefit of engine braking.

3. Pump standard brakes, steady pressure on anti-lock brakes. ABS brakes will have a weird “pumping” feeling, so you may want to try a gentle practice in a parking lot.

4. Turn on your lights.