Winter driving tips from your Mercedes Dealership
While harsh winters in the Houston area are usually defined by a little more rain, fog and possibly a dip down in to the 30s, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared for winter driving.
It’s easy to grow comfortable with driving in Houston’s mild winter weather. But you should always be aware and be prepared for any type of road conditions.
A snow flurry or two have been known to dust the greater Houston area in recent years. And if you drive north, you are likely to hit bad weather at some point. Weather experts predict colder-than-normal temperatures for much of the South this year. This could create winter weather conditions that many drivers on not accustomed to.
Road trips, holiday vacations, or business trips also may lead you to less hospitable environs this winter, so preparing your vehicle for colder temperatures may be imperative.
While staying home in severe weather is the best way to stay safe, getting out in your vehicle is sometimes necessary. Be prepared for quickly-changing weather conditions, especially if you are driving long distances.
Here are a few tips from Mercedes-Benz on how to safely handle winter road conditions.
1. Make sure your vehicle is in peak condition
Take your vehicle in to your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for a routine maintenance visit to check your battery, brakes, tires, belts, alternator, antifreeze, wiper fluid, oil levels and wiper blades.
Before you head out you can check to make sure your tires are properly inflated. Also check to make sure your windshield washer reservoir is full with quality “no freeze” fluid.
If your vehicle is well-maintained, this reduces the risk of being left stranded along side the road in freezing temperatures.
2. Plan your route carefully
It’s a good idea to check the Federal Highway Administration for road closures and weather-related road conditions. Plan a route but keep alternatives in mind. Utilize your in-vehicle navigation system to plan the trip or find alternative routes in order to get you safely to your destination.
Drive on the main highways and roads since these are more likely to be clear and passable. In icy conditions avoid bridges and overpasses when possible. Also, allow for extra time for your trip since traffic, detours and slower speeds could slow you down.
3. Keep enough fuel in your tank
Since detours and delays are common during winter weather you should always keep your tank at least half full. Find nearby filling stations by searching your map application or in-vehicle navigation system.
4. Keep an ice scraper or de-icer handy
It’s important to maintain good visibility during bad weather. Make sure your windows, mirrors and lights are clear of ice and snow.
5. Be alert
Even if you’re driving safely in bad weather doesn’t mean others around you are doing the same. Be aware of your surroundings and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles on the road. It can take 10 times longer for a vehicle to stop in snow and ice, so make sure to allow for plenty of braking distance.
Different weather conditions call for different driving styles. Keep these tips in mind when you come across heavy rain, fog and snow:
- Go slow and steady
- Drive with lights on to improve visibility
- If a roadway is overflowed do not attempt to drive through the water
- If you hydroplane take your foot off the pedal, do not brake and hold the steering wheel steady.
- Activate your fog lights to increase viability
- Maintain a constant, lower speed
- Be aware of fog patchiness and do not sharply decelerate if you hit an area of dense fog
Snow and Ice
- Drive in a lower gear to avoid wheel spin if applicable
- Avoid sudden braking and give yourself extra room to be able to come to a stop
- Keep steering wheel steady to avoid sliding
- Check your vehicle’s owners manual for instruction on proper braking in slippery conditions
- Leave extra room between you and other vehicles
- Drive with lights on to improve visibility
- Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as thicker ice can form and they are areas to become icy first
If you must drive in bad weather make sure to let others know about your plans and give them an estimated time of arrival so they can expect you. Avoid talking or texting while driving and keep your attention on driving.
If you do get stuck in a bad situation, rest assured that help is a phone call away.
Twenty-four-hour roadside assistance is available if you ever need a free jump-start, a flat tire changed, or extra fuel. Mercedes-Benz vehicles also are supported by more than 300 Mercedes-Benz dealerships located around the country and can help you if you need help when you are away from home.
For roadside rescue call 1-800-FOR-MERCedes (1-800-367-6372) or press the wrench button on your mbrace system. Help also can be accessed through the mbrace mobile app.
You will be prompted to provide your name, vehicle identification number, year, model and color of vehicle, your telephone number, your location and description of the problem. A dispatcher will send service personnel to your location if possible.
If you are in a remote area it also may be a good idea to dial 9-1-1 if the situation is dangerous.
During the winter months it’s a good idea to pack a few extra items just in case:
- Ice scraper or de-icer
- Sunglasses to protect you from low sun and glare
- Snow shovel
- Flashlight and batteries
- Jumper cables
- Extra windshield washer fluid
- First aid kit
- Winter clothes and blankets
- Bottled water and/or nonperishable food