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Michelin's Top 10 Winter Driving Tips

10 ways to keep out of the ditch on snow-covered roads

1. Avoid the winter slip n' slide - To ensure your vehicle is ready for Canada's changing winter weather, switch your all-season tires to winter tires before the temperature drops below 7°C. The cost of winter tires is equivalent to replacement all-season tires, but winter tires provide optimized performance and added safety for cold weather driving conditions. The braking distance of a winter tire can be up to two vehicle lengths shorter than an all-season tire at 24 km/hr in both wet and dry conditions. This can increase significantly if emergency braking is required.

2. Don't be a peephole driver - Scrimping on scraping might get you off to your destination faster, but it's a dangerous driving habit that must be broken. Leave yourself a few extra minutes to clear all the windows of your vehicle. And don't forget the top of the car - snow can slide down the windshield and obstruct your view once the car is in motion.

3. Winterize your trunk - Keeping a road safety kit in your trunk year-round is a smart idea, but winter driving conditions call for special safety gear. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with items like a windshield scraper, lightweight shovel and a bag of sand, candles, as well as extra warm clothes, gloves and a toque, so you're always prepared for whatever Old Man Winter throws your way.

4. Replace worn tires - It's important to check your tires each winter season because worn or bald tires can be dangerous. Tires have tread wear indicator bars moulded into the tread. A solid bar of rubber across the width of the tread means it's time to replace the tire. Contact your nearest tire dealership if you have any questions or concerns about your tires' wear.

5. Don't mix and match - Mixing tires with different tread patterns, different internal constructions and/or different sizes compromises the stability of the vehicle. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with four identical winter tires.

6. Top up your fluids - Make sure you always keep your gas tank at least half full. On very cold days, the condensation in the tank can freeze and cause problems. Also, don't forget about your windshield washer fluid.

7. Pump up your tires - For every 5°C temperature drop, tires lose one pound of air pressure. To ensure optimum fuel efficiency and prevent irregular or premature wear, tire inflation should be checked monthly.

8. Don't rely on four wheel drive or electronic systems - Advanced systems like four-wheel-drive, electronic stability control and anti-lock braking (ABS) are meant to provide vehicle stability and power transmission, but are not substitutes for winter tires. Winter tires offer optimized traction in all types of winter driving manoeuvres like braking, acceleration and handling. Remember, your brakes stop the wheels but it's the tires that have contact with the road, and ultimately stop the vehicle.
9. Bring a cell phone - For long-distance travel, don't forget to bring a cell phone in case you need to pull over to the side of the road, stop your vehicle and call for help.

10. Buckle up and adjust your driving to road conditions - Simply drive more intelligently. Slow down no matter how good a driver you think you are, because it takes your vehicle much further to stop when the roads are wet or snow-covered, and even further if you didn't put on winter tires.

Posted July 6, 2009. Updated Nov. 17, 2010.


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