Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster…
The temperature is starting to drop, the leaves are clogging up the streets and snow is beginning to fall in parts of B.C.
Driving in the winter season brings challenges no matter which part of the province you call home. My remarks are aimed chiefly at truck owners but the message is common for all: drivers and vehicles must be equally prepared.
In winter, braking and stopping vehicles of all kinds is perhaps where most of us get into trouble. The tires play a critical role in stopping the vehicle, and so they need even more care and attention than in the other seasons.
Most SUVs have a passenger car tire classification with ‘M+S’ stamped on the sidewall – which stands for ‘Mud and Snow’ – and are considered all-season tires. If it’s not, your vehicle must be fitted with tires suitable for any type of climate, even the most severe ones.
In winter, the pressure of the tire must also be controlled more frequently. This is because a reduction of the outside temperature causes a contraction of the air inside the tire, accelerating the normal and gradual pressure loss process by a value around 1-2 PSI for each 5° C decrease in temperature.
Contrary to popular opinion, a lower inflation pressure than normal does not improve tire traction on snow. It makes them much more prone to damage. Always remember that in any season and with any temperature, insufficient pressure is always the main cause of tire damage.
Use brakes carefully. Brake early. Brake correctly.
It takes more time and distance to stop in icy conditions. Watch for slippery bridge decks, even when the rest of the pavement is in good condition. Bridge decks will ice up sooner than the pavement.
Do not use the cruise control in winter conditions. Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Don’t get overconfident in your 4×4 vehicle. Remember that your four-wheel drive vehicle may help you get going quicker than other vehicles but it won’t help you stop any faster. Besides, many 4×4 vehicles are heavier than passenger vehicles and actually may take longer to stop.
And don’t bank on your 4×4’s traction. Your 4×4 can lose traction as quickly as a two-wheel drive vehicle.
If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, do not pump them in attempting to stop. The right way is to steer into the skid while applying the brake pedal evenly.
Look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by cars and trucks will alert you quicker to problems and give you a split second extra time to react safely.