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Driving Safely in Waterloo this Winter

Driving Safely in Waterloo this Winter

Driving safely certainly presents its challenges during the winter months. Winter is especially rough in Waterloo Region during the snowy season, and it’s virtually impossible to know what to expect on our roads on a daily basis. Having your vehicle adequately serviced and taking the necessary precautions while driving will ensure the safety of you, your family, and others on the road this winter season. Here are a few tips from the team at Bustard Chrysler on driving safely in Waterloo Region (and beyond!) this winter!

 

Get those snow tires on

 

Having a proper set of snow tires is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to driving safely this winter. Whether your vehicle is equipped with Two-Wheel-Drive (FWD or RWD), All-Wheel-Drive, or Four-Wheel-Drive, Bustard Chrysler highly recommends you install a set of properly inflated snow tires with adequate tread depth to provide more traction, braking control and stability in snowy and icy conditions. Check out our Do I Need Winter Tires blog post for more information on why winter tires are so important. The added benefit is that here in the province of Ontario, insurance companies have been mandated to provide a discount for drivers who buy and install winter tires – and let’s be honest, the less we pay for car insurance, the better!

 

Stay safe this winter season by installing a set of snow tires on your ride at Bustard Chrysler in Waterloo
 

Stay composed and controlled in slippery conditions

 

Avoid hard braking and erratic lane changes while driving in slippery conditions. If you need to stop quickly, pumping your brakes will allow you to stop faster without sliding. We know this isn’t always easy to remember in a stressful situation, so thankfully your vehicle’s Antilock Braking System will actually do this for you when you hit the brakes in slippery conditions! If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, downshifting as opposed to braking will cause your tires to spin more slowly and ease braking, but be careful – vehicles behind you tend to use brake lights as a signal that you are slowing down, so we suggest that you avoid gearing down in wall-to-wall traffic situations.

 

If you need to switch lanes, be sure to signal! We cannot stress this enough, but unfortunately we witness MANY drivers who, ahem, deny the existence of their turn signal and switch lanes without warning - putting everyone on the roads at risk.

 

Avoid accelerating and braking while turning corners. If your vehicle begins to slide as you brake into a corner, ease off your brakes and point your steering wheel the direction you want to go. Understeer occurs when the front wheels of your vehicle lose traction (going straight instead of steering), and oversteer results when the rear wheels of your vehicle lose traction (fishtailing). Understeer is more common for Front Wheel Drive vehicles, whereas oversteer is more commonly experienced by Rear Wheel Drive vehicles. Here’s what to do in case you encounter either while driving on the slippery roads of Waterloo Region this winter.

 

Correcting a front wheel slide (understeer)

 

1) Most importantly, don’t panic or make any erratic moves. Look where you want to go but resist the urge to quickly steer in that direction.

 

2) Take your foot off the gas, and gently apply your brake to shift the weight of your vehicle forward.

 

3) As your vehicle’s weight shifts forward, your front tires will gain more traction and allow you to carefully decrease the steering angle and steer smoothly back into the corner. Remember, you'll have the most grip with slight steering inputs - do not make any drastic steering movements!

 

Correcting a rear wheel slide (oversteer)

 

1) Most importantly, don’t panic or make any erratic moves. Look where you want to go but resist the urge to quickly steer in that direction.

 

2) Take your foot off the brakes. You may need to accelerate slightly to shift weight onto your vehicle's front tires.

 

3) Slowly steer into the skid. This will straighten out your vehicle and allow your rear wheels to gain traction. Once your vehicle is facing the desired direction, begin (or continue!) to accelerate.

 

Clear snow and ice off your vehicle

 

Driving safely during the winter months isn't possible if you don't clear snow and ice off your vehicle properly before taking off for the day. We’ve only had a couple snowstorms this year, but we’ve already seen a number of drivers cruising around with their side windows and windshield obscured by snow and ice. This drastically impairs driver visibility and can be dangerous for everyone on the road. In addition, it’s important to clear snow and ice off the roof, hood, and trunk of your vehicle prior to driving. We know this can be challenging for those of you who own a truck, large SUV, or minivan – but there are some pretty cool new extendable snow brushes available to suit your needs!

 

Not clearing the roof of your vehicle can be dangerous, because large pieces of ice can fly off your vehicle at high speeds and hit vehicles behind you – potentially breaking windshields, or worse, causing an accident. If these reasons aren’t good enough, keep in mind that, in Canada, you can be fined for failing to clear snow off your vehicle. Specifically, in Ontario, the fine for not clearing snow off your vehicle is $110, and can have steeper financial implications in the event it causes an accident.

 

And let’s be clear…cleaning snow off your vehicle DOES NOT mean just clearing a little peephole in front of the driver’s seat. We mean the entire vehicle. It’s important to keep you, and others safe, so get out to your vehicle a couple minutes earlier in the morning, turn on your windshield defrosters, and start scraping!

 

Image of vehicle rear windows covered in snow

Leave some extra room

 

Tailgating the car in front of you is extremely dangerous all year, but even more so during the winter months. Stopping times are greatly lengthened on snow and ice, and you want to be sure you have sufficient time to stop in the event the driver in front of you stops suddenly, or an accident occurs up the road.

 

Keep a safe distance between you and other drivers. If you feel they are going too slow, recognize there may be a good reason for this instead of riding the rear of their vehicle. Instead, plan ahead and leave early to get to your destination. Let’s be real – tailgating won’t make the car in front of you go faster. It tends to stress out both you, and the other driver, and puts everyone at risk of an accident. Take a deep breath and take your time – accidents just set you back further if you are already running late, and accidents are far more likely to occur when you are tailgating. Plus, if you rear-end someone, the rear driver is almost ALWAYS found liable. The premise is that the driver in the rear would have been able to stop in time had they been driving carefully. At-fault accidents will put a ding on your insurance, which will cost you money in the long term – and we all know insurance in Ontario, and specifically in larger cities like Waterloo, is too expensive as it is.

 

Unsafe winter driving has far too many consequences, and we want to see you, and everyone else, safe on the roads this winter season. We’re sure that we can all agree we’ve been dealt a hard enough hand for 2020, and no one needs a car accident or fine on top of it all. Please, for the sake of you and others on the road, adjust your driving during the winter months! It could not only safe a life (including yours!), but also save you money in the long-term through avoiding fines and increased insurance premiums that will haunt you for years to come.

 

If you need snow tires, Bustard Chrysler’s Parts Department offers competitive pricing and we are the home of Buy 3 Get the 4th Free tires. To locate tires for your vehicle, check out our Tire Locator or call us at (519) 884-5886. To book your winter tire installation, visit our Service Appointment Booking page or call us at (519) 884-5888. Looking to upgrade your ride to something a bit more winter-friendly? Bustard Chrysler offers a large selection of New Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM vehicles as well as Pre-Owned vehicles of all makes and models. Check out our inventory or call us at (519) 884-5888 today!

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