We may finally be out of the danger of nasty winter weather, but that doesn’t necessarily mean safer roads. Even as you start to roll the windows down, make sure you’re aware of the challenges of driving in unpredictable spring weather so you can prepare and react accordingly.
Prepare: Show Your Car Some Love
If you and your car made it through this rough winter together, there’s no doubt that the cold, ice and snow has taken its toll. While your car doesn’t show it with dry pale skin and a few extra pounds from hibernation, it probably needs a little TLC. Here are few things you can do to prep your ride before hitting the road this spring:
1. Replace your wiper blades.
After scraping all that ice off of your windshield, your wipers may be worn out and in need of replacing so they can more efficiently remove water as you’re driving. (But be sure not to drive faster than your windshield wipers can sweep rain away!)
2. Check your tire pressure. The winter cold may have reduced the air pressure in your tires. On the road, there will likely be more potholes from all the salt and large trucks used to clear the snow. Fully inflated tires will handle them much better.
3. Replace air filters. Many of us suffer from them as the flowers begin to bloom and the weather warms. If you are an allergy-sufferer, you will especially want to make sure that you replace your car’s air filter. A fresh, clean filter will do a much better job of keeping pollen and allergens out of your car.
React: Watch Out for Weather and Road Conditions
The biggest problem with spring driving is the rain–rainy driving conditions account for at least 1.2 million accidents every year. Combine that with the havoc wreaked on the pavement by winter weather and road-clearing efforts, and you’ll understand why some added caution is key. Here are a few ways to keep yourself safe while on the road:
1. Avoid cruise control. On wet, slippery roads it is usually better to decrease speed by lifting off the accelerator than to press the brake. Hitting the brake to turn off cruise control can cause hydroplaning in wet weather, leading to loss of control or even an accident.
2. Avoid potholes. If you can, totally avoid the potholes. These are bad in all kinds of weather. In rain, they will fill, and deep puddles can cause impaired vision from the dirt splashing up or even damage to brakes, tires or the undercarriage. In any weather, potholes can damage the tire, the alignment or the metal wheel. These can be hidden fractures that will cause issues weeks or months down the road.
If you cannot avoid one, be sure to slow down. Speed dramatically increases your chance for damage. Instead, brake well before getting to the pothole and release the brake just at impact. If you brake during impact, your tires will get the full brunt of the hit, which you want to avoid.
3. Leave room. As always, never tailgate and leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Rain mixes with oil and dirt in the road making roads more slippery, so brake earlier and more gently.
4. Share the road. Watch out for motorcycles and bicyclists who will be back out to enjoy the weather.
Enjoy the beautiful sunshine and all the flowers this rain will bring! And be careful out on the roads.