Practical Winter Driving Tips

It’s that time of year – almost.

You will likely be reading – and hearing – about how to make the best of it when the flakes begin to fall.

I won’t recycle the boilerplate recommendations about all-wheel-drive (not really that much of an advantage) or suggest you buy a set of snow tires (I’m assuming you’ve thought of that).

I’m figuring you might like some useful tips. Things you may not have read – or heard about – before.

Here goes:

* Make sure your AC is in good working order –

It might not sound silly – it’s cold outside; why worry about AC? – but it’s not. The air conditioner is an important element of the heater/defroster system because it dehumidifies the interior of your car. Without that vital function, the moisture-heavy winter air will fog up your windshield and leave you guessing where the road is.

Cars without working AC can be as un-fun in winter as they are when it’s 98 degrees outside. And much more dangerous. This is why it’s a good idea to make sure the AC is working in Fall.

Before the bad weather starts rolling in.

Related: Check/change your car’s cabin filter (many late-modern cars have these). Lots of dust in the air in Fall … like pollen come Spring.

*Polish and then wax your windshield – 

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A smooth surface will help dissipate water better and the wax coating will bead water and make it easier to slough off. Your windshield wiper blades will last longer, too.

You’ll want to start with a cleaner/polish (some waxes are “all in one”) which has a light abrasive to gently clean the surface. The wax is the protective coat that will slough off the water.

Do the side/door glass and rear glass, too.

Especially the side and rear glass. Because they haven’t got wipers (usually) to clear them. If you wax them, the airflow over the car should keep them clean – and you’ll be able to see.

There are also products (RainX is one) that are “hydrophobic” – they repel water, forcing it to bead and roll off the surface of the exterior glass. In light rain, you may not even need to use your windshield wipers – or you can use them less. Which ought to make them last longer.

Related: If you haven’t already, change out the windshield washer fluid for a winter formulated fluid. It’s usually orange-colored rather than the usual blue-ish stuff. If your fluid reservoir is still full of the old stuff, you can easily suck it out using a turkey baster or a large medical syringe.

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