Gearing Up for Winter Driving

It’s been so warm that winter weather may be the last thing on your mind, but the time to starting thinking about preparing your car for the elements is now.

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We’ve already had a taste of winter weather, and that October snow flipped a switch for many people.

“That’s sort of the spark. They start to panic you know maybe they’re summer or all season tires aren’t the greatest grips they want to snow tires,” explained Ari Thielman of GT Tire in Meriden. “We see an average change over of 4 to 5 cars a day in the snow tire change over.”

Whether you make the switch to snow tires or stick with all season tires, now is the time to check your tread and because of the pandemic, it may take longer to get new tires in.

“This year with COVID we’ve been noticing some of the tire supplies are erratic or not available,” explained Jennifer Stockburger, Director of Operations at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Colchester.

A great way to test your tires tread is the old penny trick. If you stick a penny upside down in between your tire treads and can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires are worn out and it’s time to start shopping.

But of course tires are only one part of the equation. You also want to check your cars battery health, change your oil and antifreeze, and make sure your heat is working properly.

The Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Colchester specializes in winter driving safety. With 327 acres and a remote track, they’re able to carefully test the latest and greatest in car safety.

"We have lots of specialty services,” explained Stockburger.  “We do snow testing up there on a full tire program. We've certainly done some work in all wheel drive vs. front wheel drive vs. winter tires, what's the best benefits and we can get out there in a really safe environment and also see the benefits of things like antilock breaking systems or the more recent electronic stability control."

But as cars get smarter, you may need to get more diligent with clearing your car.

Stockburger said, "the car needs to see just like you need to see so in winter weather you need to know where those sensors and cameras are to make sure they're clear of snow.

While new car technology is great, driving for conditions should still be top of mind.

“The adage of slow and steady wins the race totally applies for winter weather,” said Stockburger. “You may have heard people talking about driving like there’s a coffee cup on your dash just very slow and steady motions.”

Don't forget to have emergency supplies in the car just in case you find yourself stuck on the side of the road. Items like a flashlight, boots, gloves, a warm jacket or a blanket are always good to have on hand.

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