Winter driving is a drag. Not only can it be uncomfortably cold, but it can also be downright dangerous – especially if you live in a Snowbelt region like Madison, Ohio or Rochester, New York! Cold weather directly impacts the way you interact with your car and the way your car interacts with the road. Freezing temperatures combined with ice, snow, gusty winds, and freezing fog can make driving seriously hazardous. From comfort options to keep you warm to safety features that will help you drive safer, here are 10 must-have features for winter driving.
Safety Features for Winter Driving
Snow, ice, and slushy roads can seriously compromise your ability to maintain control of your vehicle, and the shorter hours of light, blowing snow, and freezing fog can make it much harder to see. These four winter driving features can go a long way towards making your commute safer.
All-wheel drive – or 4-wheel drive – is one of the best winter driving features for safety. Unlike front-or-rear-drive vehicles, all-wheel drive vehicles evenly distribute power to each wheel which in turn improves traction and stability. The more sophisticated systems can even cut power from wheels that are slipping and transfer it to wheels with traction, therefore enabling you to continue safely even on the iciest of roads. Just remember, all-wheel drive will not provide extra help when braking, so make sure you slow down in inclement weather.
Another feature that comes in handy on even the iciest roads is an antilock braking system. With traditional braking systems, in wet or icy weather, the brakes will lock up the tires if you have to hit them hard. This can send you into a dangerous skid. Anti-lock braking technology instead quickly pumps the brakes preventing them from locking up. This technology can save lives when drivers really need to stop.
All-Season or Winter Tires
Tires are among the most important items installed on a vehicle to ensure a safe driving experience in any type of weather. The best option for those who live with regular snow and ice is for snow and ice is purpose-designed winter tires. For those who live where it rains more than snows, a high-quality all-season tire is a great choice.
Windshield Wiper De-icers
Often times visibility is bad enough during the winter due to sleet, snow, and ice without you having to fight to get your wipers unstuck from your windshield. Windshield wiper de-icers help thaw wiper blades so they don’t remain stuck to the glass. Some are available as an electrical heating system on the lower portion of the windshield while others are on the wipers themselves. This features help deice the wipers a lot faster than you trying to scrape the snow or ice off yourself.
Comfort Features for Winter Driving
Freezing temperatures can make your vehicle’s cabin extremely uncomfortable. And since being comfortable while driving is essential for safe and alert vehicle operation, these comfort features for winter driving could technically be considered safety features as well. here are 4 features that can help make winter commutes much cozier.
Engine block heater
You may not live in Alaska where engine block heaters are pretty much a must, but these gadgets also work wonders here in the Lower 48. An engine block heater can help your car start and warm up faster in freezing and sub-freezing temperatures. They work by using your household current to warm parts of the engine to keep the fluids and metal components closer to operating temperatures. This, in turn, enables your car to start easier and warm-up quicker for your morning drive. As a bonus, they can also help prevent excess wear and reduce emissions.
Not much is worse than having to get in a freezing cold car first thing in the morning. In fact, the only thing worse is having to stand out in the freezing and sometimes snowy weather to de-ice your windshield by scraping snow and ice off the windows. A remote start can solve both problems by enabling you to start your car from inside your toasty warm house. Some can even be used to start your heater and defrost, too.
These starters are available for almost every make and model, either from the manufacturer of as an add on. Most are controlled by the car’s key fob, while others can be controlled by an app.
Heated seats and steering wheels used to be considered a luxury feature. However, now many manufacturers are adding them on to the options lists of even modestly priced cars. These seats heat up quickly, therefore helping you stay a bit warmer while waiting for the engine to warm up enough to deliver warm air.
Heated Steering Wheels
Steering wheels can get extremely cold on frigid winter days, so cold that touching it is near painful. Heated steering wheels use electric current to keep the wheel comfortably warm regardless of how bitterly cold it is outside.
Final Thoughts on Features for Winter Driving
Driving in winter is rarely fun, but by opting for a few additional features for winter driving on your next car, you can have a safer and more comfortable drive.