Five Winter Car Lessons I Learned the Hard Way

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five winter car lessons I learned the hard wayLiving in New England for two years was quite the experience.  I'll never forget how many people I encountered that had to ask me why I own the type of car I had.  My only car is the type local New Englanders call their "summer car" and only take out the garage a few months out of the year.  If you're like me and have lived your whole life in the deep south where snow is a one in a hundred years occurrence, let me fill you in.  Some cars are a straight up bad decision when it comes down to winter driving. Sports cars, low to the ground cars, cars with summer tires, and RWD (rear wheel drive) cars are a big NO.  I happen to own a vehicle that falls into all four of those categories.  Getting rid of my car I had just purchased three months prior to moving up north was out of the question, so needless to say, I learned a few lessons the hard way as soon as old man winter arrived.  

A RWD car will not survive a real winter.
Unless you want to drive on a snowy interstate going under 10 mph the entire way while your car still struggles to keep all four tires spinning and not get stuck all while sliding from side to side hoping you don't ram into the car in the lane next to you, don't do it.  RWD cars will also get stuck in place more times than you can count and don't even think about driving up hill, it won't happen. An AWD (all wheel drive) car isn't the answer to your problems either.  When there's ice, nothing is safe.  AWD drivers tend to think their car can handle anything, but it's the AWD SUVs that are always the ones you see flipped over on the side of the unplowed interstate (I've counted five in a 10 mile radius once).

Leaving your car parked for weeks in below freezing temps will kill the battery.
If you're car battery is nearing the end of it's life span, the freezing cold will kill it the longer it sits.  If you know you're going to be out of town for at least a week, have someone you know start your car and leave it on a few times, it will make all the difference.

There is a difference between summer, winter, and all season tires.
Whatever you do, do not attempt to drive your car with summer tires on icy or snowy roads.  If you're not sure what kind of tires you have, find out.  My car comes stock with summer tires.  To be completely honest, I just thought my summer tires wouldn't work as well as winter tires and never did much research on the topic.  My first snowfall driving experience quickly proved me wrong as I went  sliding down a hill with no control over my car and nearly ramming into two other cars.  The amount of snow on the ground was minimal, what locals would consider a dusting, but that's all it takes.  I later learned the rubber in each type of tire differs greatly based on the temperature.  Summer tires in below freezing temps are basically like oil slick skis down a black mountain slope.  All season is exactly what it sounds like, but not the best.  Winter/snow tires are specifically made for snow due to their rubber and larger grooves for traction.  If you're like me and have no choice but to drive your RWD car in the snow, these are a must.  **In other news, press play for a comical example of my car in the snow. This was my upstate New York friend trying to get my car out of the parking lot for me, thinking I was just being a southerner that didn't know how to drive in the snow ;)

Low sports cars become snow plows on the road.
Fun if you want to play in the parking lot.  Not fun if you're trying to get home.

Oil changes don't always have to be a hassle.
When I was due for an oil change this time last year, I drove all around town looking for a place to get it done.  That doesn't seem all that bad, but if you read anything I mentioned up above, you'll see how much of a hassle it can really be.  Poorly plowed roads and my car just don't mix.  The trip to get my oil changed last winter was another one of those "cross my fingers and hope I don't die" experiences.  Had I known I could get my oil changed at Walmart while doing my grocery shopping at a place I knew how to get to, with plowed roads at all times, life would've been much easier.  You just drop your car off and let them take care of the messy stuff while you get your shopping done.  Pretty convenient.  No more driving around town looking for a place and wasting time in boring waiting rooms.  Walmart stocks Pennzoil Platinum motor oil, which is best for many cars, mine included.  The Platinum oil offers the best protection and keeps your car 40% cleaner than other oils.  I may have learned a lot of winter car lessons the hard way, but one thing's for sure.  When it comes down to the internal care for my car, I don't take any chances.  I only want the best to preserve my car's life. 
walmart tire & lube express
Have you ever learned any winter car lessons the hard way?  Hopefully you don't make the same mistakes I did!

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