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car driving in harsh winter weather

Best Cars for Extreme Winter Weather

car driving in harsh winter weather

What are the best vehicles for winter driving? That depends on where you are. Baltimore and Washington D.C. get between a foot and a foot and a half of snow on average each year. While snow-covered roads certainly aren’t unheard of, the tend to be less of an issue here than elsewhere in country.

However, snow isn’t the only factor that can complicate winter driving. The low temperatures and the presence of ice can also lead to some potential problems.

All-Wheel Drive (AWD) or Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)?

Most AWD vehicles are either primarily front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive vehicles. They might also use part-time and full-time AWD.

Part-time all-wheel drive only transfers torque to the other set of wheels when the primary set of wheels starts to slip. In a part-time front-wheel drive AWD vehicle, the torque wouldn’t be transferred to the back wheels until the front started slipping.

In a full-time all-wheel drive vehicle, all four wheels are getting some torque all the time. The amount of torque is adjusted based on road conditions. Current generation Subaru are examples of vehicles that use full-time AWD.

Four-wheel drive keeps both axles spinning at the same speed all the time. This tends to reduce wheel spin when roads are slippery and traction is minimal, but it makes cornering more difficult than you’d experience in an all-wheel drive vehicle.

Any of these AWD modes of 4WD can help improve traction, stability and control in snowy or icy conditions.

Other Safety Features for Winter Driving

Stability Control With Anti-Lock Brakes: Anti-lock brakes aren’t a new or uncommon feature in modern vehicles, but they can make winter driving a lot safer when they’re combined with stability control. Stability control ensures braking is applied specifically to wheels that are sliding to bring vehicles under control more quickly in dangerous snow and ice conditions.

Automatic High Beams and Adaptive Headlights: Automatic high beams are convenient because they switch themselves off when they detect other vehicle headlights or taillights. Adaptive headlights rotate slightly with your steering wheel to provide maximum illumination when you’re making turns.

Blind-Spot Monitoring: People can miss cars in their blind spot even when there isn’t snow or bad weather, but it’s a much easier mistake to make when conditions are snowy or foggy. Quick evasive swerving to avoid a blind spot accident commonly leads to a loss of control in snowy or icy conditions. Blind-spot monitoring can help prevent that from happening.

Forward Collision Emergency Anti-Lock Braking: A forward collision warning system that automatically engages anti-lock brakes can give you a much better chance of avoiding rear end accidents in snowy or low-visibility conditions, especially when roads might be slippery.

Heated Mirrors: When people are in a hurry to get to work or get their kids to school in the morning, they sometimes neglect complete deicing. Heated mirrors can help prevent accidents caused by obstructed mirrors and low visibility.

Remote Start: The benefits of remote start in snowy and cold conditions are similar to the benefits offered by heated mirrors. If you’re able to start your car remotely before you walk out your door and give it extra time to warm up, you’re more likely to avoid driving off before your vehicle is ready to safely operate in the cold.

Snow Tires (or Winter Tires): A lot of proponents of snow tires don’t like people calling them snow tires. It doesn’t necessarily have to be freezing and stormy for these tires to be useful during a Baltimore or Washington DC winter. That’s because they’re made of specially formulated rubber that stays soft when outside temperatures are below 50-degrees Fahrenheit. They provide better control and tension and offer more reliability in cold conditions than tires made of rubber formulated for driving in 50-degree to 100+-degree weather.

They also provide better grip and control when ice or snow are on the roads.

Are You Looking for a New Car Before Winter Starts in Maryland and Virginia?

Dealing with winter driving conditions with an old, unreliable vehicle is often unsafe and can put you and your passengers at risk. Easterns Automotive Group performs thorough checks on every pre-owned vehicle we sell to ensure every customer drives off the lot with a reliable car, truck or SUV that won’t let them down when conditions outside are less than ideal for driving.

Browse our inventory or pre-owned vehicles and don’t hesitate to give us a call at 877-867-0641 if you have any questions. You can also stop by one of our eight convenient locations in the Washington DC and Baltimore areas.

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