Winter Weather Driving Guide

Winter Weather Driving Guide

Winter Weather Driving Guide: What You Need To Know

Preparation Is Key And It Should Happen Before It’s Required

Living in a cold environment, preparation can be a daunting task if left unattended. However, it comes around every year and is second nature for most of us. If you plan on visiting a location that regularly gets below freezing or is laden with snow it can be a whole new experience added to your trip. When moving to a city or area that has an annual snowfall or is below freezing for an extended period of time, you should do your research into all the expected climates that you will now be experiencing.

Throughout this winter driving guide, we’ll give some winter driving tips and Suggestions that have served us well. Owning a HeavyDuty Dodge Ram proves to have the traction capabilities covered but this is just one aspect of the winter driving journey. Unless you’re still rockin 'a horse and buggy there will be some boxes that if checked, will get you by just fine while winter driving this season and we’ll go beyond winter tires and slower driving speeds.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Cold Weather

Most cold-weather environments start kicking off Mid-November and last through mid to late February. That gives you 8 months to prepare your vehicle for the colder temperatures. If you’re a diesel owner, review our Prepping Your Diesel Truck For Winter article to get ready!

Battery

Cold weather/temperatures affect battery life and could leave you all dressed up without a chariot to get you to work. Testing your battery before the temps drop is a good idea so you can get a new one if necessary. Most auto parts stores will test your battery for free.

Cooling System

Take the time to investigate the recommended coolant ratio and ensure you have serviced (flushed) the coolant at the recommended intervals. Not all vehicles are created equal and what your buddy runs in his Honda more than likely won’t be suitable for your Dodge Ram 3500.

Winter Tires

When visiting an area that is under freezing temperatures or has a decent amount of snowfall on the roads, the current tires installed will most likely suffice for the duration of your trip. If the snow or ice gets a little too much for your tires to handle it could be advantageous to lower your tire pressure for additional traction.

Once you’re back on solid ground and under higher temperatures, make sure you inflate your tires back to the manufacturer's recommended PSI rating. This practice of lowering your tire pressure can be a controversial topic so please ensure you make an educated decision and drive slowly and safely.

If you’re able to have a separate set of rims and winter tires or snow tires, it would be ideal (and save a bit of money) to install them yourself but for a nominal fee most tire shops will swap out your summer tires for your winter tires.

All-season tires will work well if you are not regularly experiencing snowy conditions. Check tread depth is deeper than 2/32th of an inch for maximum contact patch while driving. All-season tires at a lower pressure will work well in icy conditions but may not be ideal for snow and slush covered roadways.

If you have mud tires on your truck, and it’s not a soft compound (competition tire), expect terrible performance in icy conditions. Getting in the deeper snow/slush environments will be a walk in the park for mud tires of all compound variations.

Studded tires could also be necessary and do serve a purpose if the environment is harsh enough. Research how aggressive you might want to go before taking it too far and regretting your purchase.

Tire Pressure

Under normal driving conditions on the dry pavement during the warmer months, your tire PSI (pounds per square inch) increases under normal use due to the rise in temperature. The exact opposite is true for the winter weather. Your tire pressure could be reduced simply by driving and this is not necessarily a bad thing while driving in winter conditions.

Check your pressure and maintain a lower than normal pressure setting to keep a good contact patch on the road. It’s not necessary to take drastic measures regarding tire pressures unless you are regularly driving in the snow. Treat snowy conditions much like that of muddy conditions in that you’ll want to maintain a lower pressure so you get the most traction out of your winter tires, snow tires, or all-season tires.

Wiper Blades

Your wiper blades are one of those components that will become extremely frustrating and dangerous if they do not work when you need them to. We highly recommend that you replace them well before the rainy/snowy/winter months.

Wiper Fluid

Depending on the environment you live in it’s a good idea to fill your wiper fluid reservoir with -30° fluid so you won’t arrive at your vehicle with a busted reservoir or frozen wiper fluid that won’t exit the sprayers. After all, the -30° fluid operates much like the average fluid, only it won’t freeze as easily.

Fuel Levels

Try to maintain a full fuel tank as often as possible to keep from freezing and having diesel fuel gelling. Stop by our Preparing Your Diesel Truck