Disclosure: This article is sponsored by Hankook Tires. All views and opinions expressed here are my own. Check out our advertising guidelines to see why we’d never steer you wrong.
Well folks, winter is quickly approaching, and as those of us in the cooler climates know, that means a change in how we get around.
If you roll around in an SUV or sedan all year, your change of habits will be minimal. But for those of us with smaller and sportier (especially rear-wheel-drive) cars, we need to make some bigger changes.
For me, it’s a bit extreme. Winter means sticking my Nissan 300ZX TT in the garage under a car cover (seriously, driving that thing in the rain is a death sentence, couldn’t imagine it on snow) and hopping into my Altima for the season.
For others, it might mean popping on a new set of windshield wipers and changing out the summer slicks for a set of winter or high-grip all-season tires.
Let’s take a look at a few things you have to do before the snow starts falling:
Check Your Tires
Driving on snow with worn out tires is a big no-no. It goes without saying, but it’s an easy thing to forget.
Check your freakin’ tires!
A good rule of thumb is the penny test. Take a penny, turn it upside down, and stick in the tread. If you can come close to seeing Lincoln’s head, replace your tires. Don’t be a cheap-ass, your life (or your car’s) depends on it. Even if it’s close, you’re best off replacing them.
And for the love of god, don’t use summer tires in the snow. Use some soft, grippy all-seasons.
If you’re in an area with really bad snow & ice, tires chains, or at the very least, winter tires, might be nerdy, but not a bad idea.
And don’t be one of those idiots that thinks he can barrel down the icy road at 75 mph because he has 4WD. Every time I see someone do that I find him in a ditch a couple miles miles down the road.
It might also be worth deflating your tires slightly to increase the contact patch on the road.
The new Hankook Ventus S1 Noble2 tires are a good all-season high-performance tire worth taking a look at:
- Asymmetric tread pattern for efficient water evacuation
- An advanced silica rubber compound for better wet handling and braking
- Straight Rib Block design on the outside of the contact patch to prevent road noise and increase cornering grip
- Multiple 3D Kerfs and Carving Edges for improved winter condition traction
- Positive Aqua Hydro Block- providing highly efficient wet braking
- 50,000 mile limited treadwear warranty
- Speed Symbol- W
- Series- 30~55 Series
- Inch: 16~20
- UTQG: 500, AA, A
Theapplies to four different sets of tires for four different purposes, whether you’re looking for all-season or summer-specific rubber:
- Ultra-High Performance All-Season: Ventus S1 noble2
- Premium Touring All-Season: Optimo H727
- Premium Highway All-Season Light Truck/SUV: Dynapro HT
- Rough Terrain: Dynapro AT-m
Check your fluids
Too many people don’t think about this.
Check your fluids, make sure your radiator is full of more than just water. It’s called “antifreeze” for a reason.
Top up your windshield washer fluid with an anti-ice solution to melt the ice on the windshield; you know, the part of the car that makes sure you’re able to see the road and cars around you.
Brake fluid usually isn’t an issue since brakes get hot anyway, but it can have an effect. Pay attention to how your brakes feel, and if they’re less responsive in the cold than normal, you might want to change to a different fluid.
Engine oil is also usually a non-issue, unless you happen to have a very low or high viscosity oil in you car for whatever reason. If you car struggles to start up in the morning, try a slightly lower viscosity oil that won’t freeze as easily.
Alternatively, engine block heaters can be well worth the money for the lack of headache, wear on the engine, and guarantee you’ll to work on time. Some manufactures sell these as an option for three figures, but you can buy them for as low as $17 on Amazon to make sure your car starts in the morning.
As we all know, batteries die in the cold. Car batteries are no different.
I’m not telling you buy a new battery, the damn things are expensive. But check it, please. If you test it and you think “ehhh….it’s probably alright,” chances are it’s not. Not for cold weather. At least get it charged. If you’re mechanically inclined, you should probably check your starter and alternator as well.
Various other stuff
In addition to the battery and washer fluid, check your windshield wipers – normal cheap rubber freezes and doesn’t do anything but gracefully glide over the ice.
Make sure you have deicer handy. Don’t forget how much a pain in the ass it is to unlock your doors when the lock is frozen over.
Have a scraper sitting around. This is probably the most valuable tool in your winter arsenal. Ice in the way? Scrape that shit off.
Have a first aid and basic survival kit in your trunk. You never know when you’ll slide off the road in the middle of BFE and need it. Don’t give me that “it’ll ever happen to me” crap.
Bring along some kitty litter. Aside from Boots that you’re obviously hauling along with you, you might need it for some traction to get you out of a slippery situation. Just please, remember if you’re FWD or RWD:
Most people don’t seem to comprehend the concept of traction and that there’s a difference between winter and summer driving.
But you’re smarter than that.
You, as a driver of an enthusiast car, know that there are some special requirements involved when driving your RWD sports car on snow. It’s not as easy as just driving as you always had. Yes, even you Audi drivers.
Before your holiday schedule gets crazy, take care of your car now – especially your tires. Save with, $80 off a set of 4 Ventus S1 noble2 tires.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hankook Tires. The opinions and text are all mine.