Wintertime can be an ice-cold slush-fest unless you prepare yourself and your ride. 

Luckily, there are 3 key areas to focus on that will help prepare you for cold-weather driving.  

  1. Visibility 
  2. Traction 
  3. Battery life 

Driver Visibility in Winter 

Many things can affect your vision while driving. Terrain, bug splatters, sun position, poor headlights, and bad weather. Winter weather can also mean fogged-up windows, plus snow or ice on your windshield. Combine that with any of those other factors and you could slide into a ditch or another vehicle! 

The Federal Highway Administration reports that nighttime accounts for only 25% of auto travel but half of traffic fatalities. So be extra careful on roadways at night during winter. 

  • Ensure heating and a/c are working (a/c helps clear fogged windows) 
  • Plan long trips for daylight hours  
  • Use windshield treatments that repel water 

The Graphene-Ceramic Fusion X and Z5X Ceramic Coating at ZIPS are great solutions for repelling water from your vehicle and windows. For both personal cars and fleet car washing to ensure employees have a clear view of the highway. 

Now, the rubber meets the road… 

Winter Tire Traction 

Think Canadians know about snowy travel? Well, the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers advises: 

  • Tire tread should not be worn past 6/32″ 
  • Tread depth of 2/32″ or less results in vehicles having zero to very little traction in snow 
  • If you’ve got some loose change in the glove box, easily check the depth of your treads with a quarter. The Colorado Department of Transportation recommends these easy steps to checking if your tires are too worn out for safe travel:  
    • Insert a quarter into the tire tread upside down, with Washington's head going in first. 
    • If the top of George's head is covered by the tread, your tires are OK – do this test at multiple points around each tire. 
    • If the top of his head is visible at any point around the tire, you need new tires. 

The best time to check tire tread? When the sun is shining, and temps are comfortable. Make a point to do it on the same days as other car maintenance so you don’t wait until a snowpocalypse (real word, we checked). 

Same goes for the best way to clean your car in winter. Stay as toasty as summertime inside while rolling through an automatic car wash like ZIPS.  

Oh, don’t forget to check your spare tire pressure. Spares get left out and that’s jacked up????. 

One more key and it’s the battery… or batteries. 

Cranky Wintertime Batteries 

This is the one time cranky is a positive. You want your car to crank every time you get behind the wheel. 

A dead battery can leave you stranded, and things could get even worse. Always pack a winter emergency kit so your family doesn’t face those tough spots if your battery does die. This article covers emergency kits. 

Firing up an engine can take up to twice as much electrical current as normal, according to BatteriesPlus. ‘Normal’ means during non-snowpocalyptic, warmer months of the year.  

Avoid battery trouble on a combustion engine (gas / diesel) by getting a free battery check at a local auto supply store. Free! So, no excuse to avoid this pre-winter check-up. At the time of this article, the least expensive car battery in a quick search at was $70 and most expensive was $180. 

What about electric vehicles in the dead of winter? 

EV Batteries and Winter Driving 

Luckily, you won’t run out of gas in an EV! Be aware though, Car Magazine UK reports that cold weather reduces EV battery efficiency and driving range. You CAN run out of ‘electric juice’. Studies show this is 0% more enjoyable than running out of gas. 

Take steps to ensure you don’t face that chilling scenario.  

  • Check your EV model for driving range during ideal temps and extreme temps 
  • Check your route for charging stations 
  • Use fewer interior power features to reduce strain on the batteries 

But the best way to clean your car, a fully-electric one, is the same as washing gas-powered vehicles in winter. Find an automatic car wash so you never have to get out into the cold to hand wash it. 

Winter Travel Wrap-Up 

Focus on those 3 key areas: visibility, traction and battery life, plus keep a safety kit in your vehicle so winter driving will be a smooth ride. And one tip that holds true in any extreme situation is below. 

*It is better to have an emergency item and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Dress warm and clothe your car in care all year round so you’re always prepped for extreme conditions.