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If you have a question not related to media relations, please call customer service at (888) 780-1286 or contact us here. Highlights Technology for Safer Winter Driving

Car features keep drivers safe and comfortable in hazardous winter driving conditions

As temperature's plunge and drivers in many parts of the country brace themselves for the snowy driving months ahead, offers advice about car features commonly found as standard or optional equipment that can help prevent problems associated with hazardous road conditions.

"Most consumers are familiar with four-wheel drive and how that helps with driving in ice and snow," said senior editor Joe Wiesenfelder. "However, there are other technologies -- like heated side mirrors and headlight washers that improve winter-driving visibility -- that might be less familiar to consumers, but are also important safety options to consider."

Controlling a vehicle on a slippery road can be challenging. Making a turn too quickly or stopping suddenly can lead to danger in bad weather. Features that offer drivers more control include:

  • Antilock Brakes: Prevent wheels from locking and skidding. Allow steering during a panic stop.
  • Traction Control: Senses when a car's drive wheels slip. Reduces engine power and/or applies the antilock braking system to keep power going to the wheels with traction.
  • Electronic Stability System: Senses the car's direction and compares that to where the driver is steering. Applies individual antilock brakes to steer the car back on its intended course.
  • Four-/All-Wheel Drive: Allows all wheels to propel the car; prevents wheelspin and skidding. Helpful to those traveling through hilly areas or areas without good snow removal.
  • All-Season/Winter Tires: One or the other is necessary for driving in winter conditions. Summer performance tires can be a hazard in wintry weather.
  • Winter Transmission Mode: Decreases power to the drive wheels, resulting in less slippage when accelerating. The transition from a warm house to a cold car can dampen any traveler's morning.

  • Luckily, some vehicles offer features designed to minimize this discomfort. Features that offer drivers additional comfort and convenience and in most cases add to overall driver safety include:
  • Heated Side Mirrors: Clear themselves of ice and snow.
  • Heated Windshield: Melts ice or loosens sheets of snow thanks to a thin film or imbedded wire grid that heats the glass.
  • Heated Seats: Warms seats for drivers and their passengers.
  • Heated Steering Wheel: Means never having to grasp a cold wheel or steer with bulky winter gloves.
  • Heated Wipers/Washers: Frees frozen wipers that would otherwise be immobile until the car is fully heated and defrosted. Enables the wipers to remain pliable enough to stay in contact with the entire windshield.
  • Headlight Washer/Wipers: Clear grime, road salt and snow accumulation that can dim your headlights.
  • Remote Starts: Pre-heat the car and cabin by pushing a button located on the key fob. Some also turn on the defrosters and seat heaters.
  • Block Heaters: Plug into a household outlet to keep the engine block warm. Keeps the oil thin, making starting easier and reducing engine wear and pollution.

  • Additional features those living in colder climates should consider when buying a new car:
  • Ground Clearance: Choosing a car too low to the ground can make navigating in poorly plowed areas nearly impossible.
  • Retractable Hardtops: These make a convertible more practical for those living in areas with colder weather.

More information about safe winter travel, and cars that offer these options, can be accessed through the homepage.


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