Around the office, we make jokes about the editorials that we must run every year: School’s in session, watch out for children; prepare your house for wildfires; Christmas is about helping impoverished people. We haven’t run our “Here’s how to drive in snow” for a few years, but thanks to El Niño, here it is. A few years ago, we got these tips from Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers from NPR’s Car Talk show, but their tip page seems to have disappeared. All the more reason to run the editorial again.
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.
7. Make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full.
8. With regard to 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 heater to your engine.
10. Make sure your rear-window defroster works.
11. Know how your car handles in the snow. Maybe practice braking and steering in a slide in an empty parking lot.
12. Question whether you really need to drive in the snow.
13. Make sure you have some basic supplies in your car in case you do get stuck.
14. Carry a cell phone for emergencies.
15. If you’re in an area that permits or requires tire chains, they should 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. 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.