Okay, so it’s that time of year again. Winter is coming and not in the Game of Thrones ice-zombie way. More like the snowy, slidey, crashy kind of way. At least that’s the kind of winter it can be if you don’t properly prepare your vehicle for winter driving. So here are some tips to keep your BMW safely on the road during the winter.
Proper Winter Tires: We cannot express this enough. Winter tires are so important for driving in freezing temperatures. It doesn’t matter whether or not your car has all-wheel drive, what kind of car it is or how big it is. Winter tires make more of a difference than driven wheels and more than the kind of drivetrain tech. In the snow, winter tires are the only sort that have the proper tread pattern to handle it. Even on dry pavement, though, winter tires are important as the rubber compound grips the road in freezing temps far better than any other sort of tire. Forget summer tires, as they’re useless once temperatures drop to freezing levels.
Check Brakes: Brakes, both pads and rotors, are relatively cheap. So make sure that the brakes on your car are either new or close to it for winter. In snowy conditions, braking distances increase anyway, thanks to low levels of grip, so don’t exacerbate things with crappy brakes. Make sure your brakes are healthy, this way you’re getting the best possibly stopping power in conditions that are less than ideal.
Check Your Fluids: Firstly, you should always check your coolant levels to make sure there’s the proper amount. While cars don’t typically lose a lot of coolant unless there’s a bigger issue, it’s still good to keep up with. Also make sure your washer fluid is full and filled with a de-icer. Standard windshield washer fluid will freeze almost instantly in snowy conditions and then you’re pretty much screwed. So make sure to use a de-icer fluid to help with a freezing windshield.
Pack a Safety Bag: Regardless of anything safety precautions you take, winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous. Unexpected things happen and can cause you to be stuck on the side of the road in the snow. Personally, I can recall being stuck on the side of the Garden State Parkway in a monster snow storm in my E36 for hours all because my coolant overflow tank cracked. This caused the car to dump all of its coolant onto the road and render it incapable of driving. So having to wait for a tow truck for hours, being that the road was slam packed with stuck cars, in a car that obviously had no heat as it couldn’t start, was miserable. So pack a bag with blankets, hand warmers and even spare coats.
While following these driving tips won’t guarantee safety in the winter, they’ll certainly help. Of course the most important aspect of winter driving, as with all driving, is the driver. You must drive carefully, defensively and far more alertly than normal. But if you do that while following these driving tips, you should be safe during these winter months.