How to Stay Safe Driving in Winter

Winter is here, and that means slick roads, the possibility of a breakdown during a winter storm, and increased risk of accidents. Whether you’re driving around in a new Volkswagen Passat, still looking at used cars, or just about to cut a deal with the car dealership, here’s some things to bear in mind about winter and your car.

Get the Right Car

If you live where winter temps are extreme, you need to have a car that can handle the cold. There’s a reason that you’re likely to see a Volkswagen Passat, a Volkswagen Beetle, or the newer Tiguan in the coldest places: they’re a brand meant to handle the cold. Start with a vehicle that’s designed to stay running at freezing temperatures and the battle is half won.

Prepare the Vehicle Itself

You’ve got your Volkswagen Passat: but is it ready to battle the frost? Here’s some things you should do for it:

  1. Lubricate belts and doors. The last thing you want is to get frozen out of your car in the morning. Some simple silicone lubricant sprayed along the door and gas cap seals will make sure you can always get in. Get some belt conditioner and lubricant and spray it on your engine belts so they last longer in brutal cold.
  2. Get good tires. Don’t neglect to get your snow tires until it’s too late. Your car will thank you, as will your family. Studless snow tires are available now that rate as good or even better than the old studded models for all types of winter weather except driving on actual ice, and even there they are worlds better than all-season tires. Some communities ban studded tires these days because of what they can do to roads, so make sure you know before you buy.
  3. Get a good wax job. Winter weather will be hard on the paint job, so if you’re not lucky enough to have a garage for your Volkswagen Passat, you especially need to protect it. A good wash and wax before the season starts will help keep that precipitation from damaging your paint job. Regular underbody washing will minimize the corrosive effect of road de-icing agents.

Prepare the Inside of the Vehicle

If you live where the snow flies, you need a car emergency kit. You never know when you might get stuck and have to ride out a storm in your Volkswagen Tiguan. Here’s what your kit needs:

  • Jumper cables
  • Food for a day or two
  • Water
  • Sand
  • Flashlight
  • Extra warm clothes
  • Blankets
  • Map
  • Cell phone spare battery
  • Flares
  • Ice scraper

There’s more you can have, and the details might vary according to where you live, but these are the basics. You might consider even having some wood and a firestarter in your car. While you never want to start a fire in your car, if you get stranded for a couple days or have to set up camp outside it, you could be glad of a way to stay warm.

Be Smart About Driving

Prevention is the best way to stay safe, so know what the weather is going to be like before you set out on a trip. If conditions are unsafe, stay at home. If you’re caught in an unexpected storm, get to a place of safety if you can. If you have to keep driving, make sure you stay in regular contact with a friend who knows your general travel route so someone will notice quickly if you go missing. And always keep your gas tank full in the winter, not only to minimize the possibility of freezing, but also to make sure you can get places.

While driving, remember that things like snow tires and all wheel drive are aids: they aren’t a substitute for good driving. Go slowly in storms, leave plenty of distance between you and the cars around you, and don’t panic if you slip or slide. Push down hard on the brake, turn smoothly and gently into the slide, and keep your cool.

Winter is upon us: get your Volkswagen Passat in shape, fill it with the things you need, and then be safe out there.

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