On long winter weekends, we grab our season ski passes, load the car up with gear, and head west of Washington, DC to one of our favorite ski resorts in the mountains of Maryland. I know from our many trips that the farther we get from the city, the colder and snowier it gets. Even though it’s a drive we’ve done many times, I’ve never done it solo in a vehicle that was brand new to me like I did on this particular Friday night where my winter driving was put to the test.
I had driven our Cajun red 2019 Chevy Equinox around town to familiarize myself with the loaner vehicle but as we climbed the mountains in the dark, the snowfall got heavier and the temperatures dropped. With below freezing temperatures, the road’s inclines and declines seemed especially treacherous while heavy, wet snowflakes hampered visibility.
I grew up in temperate California where there was little need for winter driving preparedness unless we were heading to the Sierras to ski but 6 years in New England followed by 20+ years of living in the DC area has taught me plenty about winter driving. But like a good Scout, I like to always be prepared so I reached out to my friends at Chevrolet to ask them for some winter driving preparedness tips. They gave me such a great list that I thought I’d share their tips along with some of my own to ensure you’re ready for any winter road trip ahead.
11 Winter Driving Tips to Help You Stay Safe on the Road
Whether you’re running errands around town or going on a road trip, there are things you can do to prepare you and your vehicle for the journey ahead and also while you’re on the road. These winter driving tips are designed to help you be safe on the road, regardless of the distance you’re traveling.
Winter Driving Tips: 5 Things to Do to be Prepared Before Your Go
Schedule a Service Check to Prepare Your Car for Winter
If you haven’t already done so, call your dealer or a trusted mechanic do any scheduled service. You’ll want them to check to be sure your battery, tires, lights, wiper blades and other critical parts are ready for winter. Also have them check tire pressure since it can drop as the weather gets colder. If you have all-weather cargo mats or floor liners, now is a great time to install them to protect floor mats from slush, snow, ice, and salt that can enter your vehicle on the bottoms of your family’s shoes.
Consider Winter Tires
While you’re having your car looked over by your dealer or mechanic, inquire about winter tires. Winter tires provide added traction in snow and ice, even for vehicles with four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. If you drive regularly in winter weather, a set of winter tires is a smart investment!
Know Your Vehicle
Whether you’re driving vehicles that you’ve owned for years or a new car, review the sections of your owner’s manual covering anti-lock brakes, traction control, and four- or all-wheel-drive (if equipped) to make sure you are comfortable with their operation. I was given a tour of features of the 2019 Chevy Equinox when it was delivered and appreciated knowing that I could check out the myChevrolet app on my phone for quick and easy access to the owner’s manual when outside the vehicle.
Fill the Gas Tank
Since bad weather can cause unexpected delays, fill your tank before you go and plan to keep it at least half full. Once you arrive at your destination, fill it again just in case!
Stock Your Car
In addition to a snow brush and ice scraper, it’s a good idea to carry a snow shovel and abrasive material such as sand or cat litter. Jumper cables, a flashlight and emergency flares can help if you encounter unexpected problems. Cold weather clothing, an emergency blanket or sleeping bag, snacks, and water can be critical to staying comfortable and calm if you are stuck or stranded. Also bring along any charging cables for cell phones and other digital devices. You don’t need as much food as we packed underneath the cargo area for our long weekend of skiing with another family but it’s a good idea to have some snacks!
6 Winter Driving Preparedness Tips for When You’re on the Road
You’ve re-acquainted yourself with your car’s features, completed the service check, packed your car, and are ready to hit the road but here are some tips for winter driving that will help keep you safe when you’re behind the wheel.
Maintain Your Momentum
When driving to the mountains to ski, it’s a steady uphill climb towards the end of our drive. When traveling up a hill in snowy conditions, it’s important to leave room in front of you and maintain your momentum.
Be Cautious Changing Lanes
Changing lanes in slippery conditions can be hazardous but Chevrolet suggests looking for patches of snow-covered pavement for better traction. If the vehicle slips, do not overcorrect or panic. I appreciate that the Chevy Equinox comes with the StabiliTrak® system that kicks in to assist in getting back on track.
If Skidding, Don’t Pump the Brakes
If you were told to pump the brakes in a skid situation when learning how to drive, forget that you ever learned that! These days technology advances in ABS braking systems work to maintain pressure on the brake and modulate the braking. Instead of pumping the brakes, Chevrolet advises to look in the direction you want the car to go and steer smoothly in that direction.
Keep Your Cell Phone Charged
It’s always wise to keep a charging cable for your cell phone inside your vehicle because you never know when you might encounter traffic or road conditions that may drain your battery and leave you without a way to communicate. I loved the wireless charging feature that came standard on our 2019 Chevy Equinox Premier because this convenient spot in the car also charged my phone during the drive.
If Your Vehicle Gets Stuck
Even the safest drivers can encounter less than ideal conditions that cause their vehicle to get stuck. Depending on your vehicle’s ground clearance and snow conditions, you might be able to rock your vehicle free. Start by clearing the area around the front wheels and turn off any traction system. Then gently shift back and forth between reverse and a low forward gear, spinning the wheels as little as possible. If your attempts are unsuccessful, call for help.
If Your Vehicle Is Stranded
Call OnStar for assistance. While waiting for help, clear snow from the base of the vehicle, especially snow blocking the exhaust pipe, and intermittently run the vehicle to keep the interior warm. Open a window about two inches to bring in fresh air. If you see another vehicle in trouble, after pulling over to a safe place, you can use OnStar to summon emergency assistance. I’ll be sharing how our experience using OnStar to help the vehicle in the photo above that slid off the road right in front of my husband and son very soon!
Packed with features, the 2019 Chevy Equinox was the perfect vehicle for our long weekend of skiing. Not only did it have lots of cargo space to accommodate 4 pairs of skis, poles, and all the other gear that we brought with us but the wealth of convenient features helped me feel confident about the snowy drive to and from the ski slopes.
Here are some of the tech features I loved having in the 2019 Chevy Equinox.
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto— Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features you’d want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle’s display so you can make calls, send/receive messages and listen to your favorite playlists right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri. Android Auto is built around Google Maps giving you the ability to talk to Google and use several different apps straight from your cars display screen.
- 360 Surround Vision Camera— Surround Vision is camera technology that provides a literal look at the 2019 Equinox’s perimeter all the way around the vehicle. This system uses strategically located cameras on all sides of the vehicle to provide a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the vehicle, helping drivers quickly view the surrounding area at a glance for more confident maneuvering when reversing, parking or trailering. I found this extra set of eyes to be extremely helpful in spotting piles of snow that had been plowed during our snowy weekend.
- Rear Camera Mirror— This technology allows the rearview mirror surface to double as a video screen, providing the driver with a wider, less obstructed field of view behind the vehicle.
- myChevrolet Mobile App— The myChevrolet app turns your mobile device into a command center for your vehicle. This app allows you to start/stop your engine (great to warm up your car on cold winter days!) and lock/unlock your doors from your smartphone. You can even send destinations to your available navigation system, view diagnostic information, customize Wi-Fi settings and set parking reminders from virtually anywhere.
- 4G LTE Wi-Fi— Yes, the 2019 Chevy Equinox I drove had 4G LTE Wi-Fi! My high school daughter connected her laptop to the wifi and got a head start on the weekend’s homework during the long drive so she could enjoy more time skiing. The in-car Wi-Fi can connect 7 devices at once so your family will be entertained and can download movies, TV shows or books to your device on the road without using any data. This helps keep parents focused on driving while kids are entertained in the back seat.
Chevrolet provided us with a 2019 Chevy Equinox and a full tank of gas for review purposes. No compensation was received for this post and all opinions are my own.