8 Winter Weather Driving Tips
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8 Winter Weather Driving Tips

70% of deaths related to ice and snow are automobile related, whether it’s due to a crash or being stranded in freezing conditions. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can reduce this risk, so you can make it through another Wisconsin winter safely.

1. Know Your Forecast

If you keep up with the weather, you can plan around it, avoiding the worst of upcoming storms. The national weather service will issue a Winter Storm Watch if there’s the potential for snow or ice accumulation in the next 24-36 hours, while a Winter Storm Warning or Blizzard Warning means there’s a serious winter storm forecast to occur in the next 24 hours.

Department of transportation apps like 511 Wisconsin can help you keep tabs on current road conditions so you can plan trips around bad weather.

2. Get Your Car Ready for the Season

There are several things you can do now to make sure your car is able to handle winter weather:


  • Some manufacturers recommend switching to a lower viscosity oil that will be easier to pump through the engine when it’s cold. Switching to synthetic oil will have a similar effect as it stays closer to the rated viscosity at low temperatures.
  • Switching to winter tires won’t just help with snow, they’ll provide better dry pavement performance because they’re made with rubber compounds that stay flexible in low temperatures.
  • Have your battery tested. Battery amperage drops in the cold, while the power needed to turn over the engine increases, so starting problems may not show up until winter storms hit.
  • Winter wipers have boots on them that help keep them from freezing to ice and snow accumulation on your windshield, while winter formulation washer fluid has a higher antifreeze content to stay liquid in low temperatures.


  1. Put Together an Emergency Kit

    Having a few items on hand inside the cab of your vehicle can help you get your vehicle moving again and make life easier if you get stuck:


  • Blankets
  • Flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Cell phone charger
  • Reflective triangles
  • Flares
  • Jumper Cables
  • Sand, salt or kitty litter for traction
  • Water
  • Shelf stable food like energy bars


  1. Don’t Forget Your LightsWhen you clean off the ice and snow on your windows, do the same for your car’s headlights and taillights. If they’re covered, they won’t shine brightly, making your car less visible to other motorists.

    5. Learn How to Use Jumper Cables

    Check your owner’s manual to see where you should connect jumper cables to your car. Some cars place the battery in the trunk or an area of the vehicle that isn’t easily accessible, but they have points to connect jumper cables under the hood.

    Connect the cables directly to the booster cable’s battery, followed by the positive cable to the dead car’s battery. Finally, connect the negative cable to a ground point. This can be any thick, unpainted surface such as a bolt on the engine block. Connecting this cable directly to the negative terminal could cause a spark that can ignite hydrogen gas coming off the battery.

    6. Know When to Use Traction Control

    If you own a late model vehicle, it will come with traction and stability control. These systems can reign in wheel spin, helping you keep control of your vehicle if you hit a patch of ice. However, if you get stuck, turning these systems off can let the wheels spin, which might give you just enough oomph to get your vehicle moving again.

    7. Keep Your Gas Tank Full

    In most vehicles, the fuel tank is positioned just in front of the rear axle, adding weight for more grip on the rear end. More fuel in the tank also means less air, which helps prevent condensation and lines freezing.

    8. Know What to Do When Stranded

    Stay with your vehicle so you’ll be easy to find and call for help. Tie a cloth around your car’s antenna or one of the side mirrors to indicate that you need help and turn on your car’s hazard lights and the dome light to make your vehicle more visible.

    Clear out the area around the exhaust pipe so that gases can escape. Run the engine 10 minutes every hour to warm up the cabin. This will extend your fuel and prevent carbon monoxide build-up.

    If you see a stranded car, don’t drive up to it: you’ll likely drive over the same slick spot that caused them to slide off the road in the first place.

    When Accidents Happen, Merton Auto Body Can Fix It

    We have a staff of ASE certified technicians, and our shop is I-CAR Gold Class certified, which means we have experience and training to fix your vehicle whether it’s brand new or a classic. Need your car back quickly? Our Autobody Estimating Center can get work approved by your insurance company, so we can start work immediately. To learn more, visit us on the web at MertonAuto.com or stop by our Sussex, WI location. We gladly service vehicles throughout the Lake Country and Waukesha County area, including Oconomowoc, Hartland, Delafield, and Pewaukee.



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