You purchased an all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester, Crosstrek, Outback, Ascent, or other model for its all-weather performance, but it doesn't guarantee you will arrive safely. Here are twenty winter driving tips to keep you out of the ditch.
I drive a Subaru vehicle in the mountains of Colorado, and even experienced drivers need a refresher on how to drive on ice, snow, and loose surfaces. These tips are adapted from a report from Kelley Blue Book.
According to AAA, snow-covered roads and roads coated with ice, slush, or water cause nearly half of all vehicle crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths yearly.
Here are twenty tips for Subaru owners to keep you safe.
1. Stay Home
It's hard to tell Subaru owners to stay home in a snowstorm. When the snow files, that's when you'll find Subarus on the road. It's the time to get out and have fun because Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive works best in treacherous conditions. If the weather is too severe, stay home unless it's an emergency.
2. Remove Snow and Ice
Removing snow and ice from the windows, headlights, and brake lights is good advice. You want to see and be seen when it's dark and snowing. This one tip could save you from getting in an accident or worse.
3. Decrease Speed
Subaru owners are known for driving fast in the snow. I recently wrote about the three Subaru models that have the most speeding tickets of any car on the road. Slow down and be safe is a good rule when it's snowy and icy out.
Subaru Tops The List Of All Cars With The Most Speeding Tickets With 3 Models @DenisFlierl @AllSubaru @torquenewsauto#subaru #wrx #brz #impreza #speeding #speedingticketshttps://t.co/nTNihuoEsB
— Subaru Report (@SubaruReport) November 30, 2023
4. Minimize Distractions
When the roads are the worst, turn down the tunes, put down the phone, and keep your eyes and attention on the road. It will keep you out of the ditch.
5. Use AWD or 4WD
This rule is silly unless you own a Subaru BRZ sport coupe. It's the only Subaru model made that does not have Subaru Symmetrical all-wheel-drive. For all other models, you have the best all-wheel-drive system. It's why you bought a Subaru.
6. Keep a Full Tank of Gas
You have heard the saying, "It's easier to drive on a full gas tank." You don't want to fill your tank when it's cold out. You want to avoid running out of gas if you get stuck for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic during a snow, sleet, or ice storm.
7. Use Sand if Tires Get Stuck
Carrying a bad of sand serves two purposes: It's extra weight over the rear wheels for traction, and if you do get stuck, which isn't likely in a Subaru, you can lay down a layer of sand in front of your tire and get improved traction, especially on ice.
8. School Your Teen Drivers on Winter Driving
Being a good example is the best way to teach teen drivers. But send your teen drivers to a winter driving class. They are available in cold weather states, and your younger drivers will learn how to control a vehicle in the worst conditions.
9. Respect Snowplows
Where I live in Colorado, it's a state law to move over for snow plows. Don't try to pass them even if you know you make it around safely. It could be a dangerous and even deadly thing to try. Be safe.
10. Watch for Deer
8 Cheap And Easy Prep Tips To Get Your Subaru Ready For Winter via @AllSubaru @torquenewsauto #subaru #wrx #outback #forester #crosstrek https://t.co/BikWtCpleD pic.twitter.com/KJrTUAPcFw
— Subaru Report (@SubaruReport) October 3, 2023
It's tough to see other cars in a snowstorm and even harder to see a deer darting out in front of you on a rural road. Slow down and scan the sides of the road for wildlife. If you hit an elk, it could be deadly for the driver if it goes through the windshield.
11. Look Out for Black Ice
If the road looks shiny and black instead of grey, slow down. If you hit an icy spot or black ice and start to slide, do the opposite of what you would think. Turn into the slide, and keep your foot off the gas and brakes. The car will slowly correct itself, and you can then get back on your track or steer to a spot on the road where there's more traction.
12. Don't Use Cruise Control
Turn off the Subaru auto cruise control with EyeSight. If you have the cruise control on and hit black ice, your car will slide, and you may not recover control of your Subaru vehicle.
13. Clean Headlights and Taillights As Needed
I already discussed this above. Removing snow and ice from the headlights and brake lights is good advice. You want to see and be seen when it's dark and snowing.
14. Should I Put My Windshield Wipers Up When it Snows?
Putting your windshield wipers up when it snows is a good idea. If you park outside and it snows, the temperature usually drops overnight, and the snow turns to ice on your warm windshield. It will take more work to clear your frozen wipers. You could damage your wipers if you pull on them to get them free from an icy windshield.
15. Keep Your Tire Repair Kit Current
It's a good idea to carry a tire kit. The kit consists of a small compressor, hose, and a bottle of thick, sticky sealant that you force through the valve into the tire. AAA recommends checking the kit's expiration date and replacing it when necessary.
16. Don't Block the Radiator with Cardboard
Blocking the radiator could cause your car to run hot and overheat. Your radiator should also remain debris-free, and never use cardboard to warm up your car faster.
17. Use Emergency Supplies If Needed
Because you planned for the unexpected, don't be afraid to use your survival supplies if needed. Stay safe and drive carefully.
18. Assess Your Traction
According to KBB's Micah Muzio, cautiously brake with increasing intensity when driving in slippery conditions until the anti-lock braking system (ABS) intervenes. Doing a test of the ABS in a straight line with plenty of room in front and behind you is essential before you are in an emergency.
This test gives the driver a good sense of available traction. Stay calm about engaging the ABS. That's what it's designed to do, and not dangerous. Don't try this in a corner. That can initiate a spin.
19. Steer in the Direction of a Skid
If you hit an icy spot or black ice and start to slide, do the opposite of what you would think. Turn into the slide, and keep your foot off the gas and brakes. The car will slowly correct itself, and you can then get back on your track or steer to a spot on the road where there's more traction.
20. Avoid Idling Your Vehicle
Starting your car when it's cold and leaving it running with the heater on means you'll burn more fuel. Your vehicle's engine will warm up quicker when driven, improving the heater's performance and reducing fuel consumption.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this Subaru snow-driving story. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.
For additional articles related to Subaru safety, here are a few of my top stories you may enjoy.
My Must-Read Top Picks
- 10 Winter Driving Tips And Why Having An AWD Subaru Doesn’t Guarantee Safety
- 8 Cheap And Easy Prep Tips To Get Your Subaru Ready For Winter
- 7 Easy Tips To Prepare Your AWD Subaru Or Any Car Now For Winter Adventure
Watch on YouTube: Winter Tires vs All-Season Tires: When All-Season Tires On Your Subaru Is The Worst Idea in Winter
I am Denis Flierl, a 12-year Torque News senior writer with 20+ years of Subaru and automotive journalism experience. I enjoy bringing you, the Subaru fans and customers, the most up-to-date Subaru news, reviews, and new model information. You'll find the latest Subaru stories on the Subaru page. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blog, SubaruReport, All Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierl, Facebook, and Instagram.
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photo credit: Subaru USA