All-Wheel Drive vs. Snow Tires: Which is Better for Winter Driving?

a red vehicle in contrast to which is between between all-wheel drive and snow tires

The combination of freezing road surfaces and slippery snow makes winter driving treacherous. Drivers have two choices to stay safe: an all-wheel-drive car or a two-wheel drive car equipped with snow tires. Learn the strengths of each option to decide whether you are better served by snow tires or an all-wheel-drive car.

Why Buy All-Wheel Drive Autos for Winter?

Whether you prefer an SUV, crossover, truck, or car, you will find a version equipped with all-wheel drive, which chooses whether to send power to the front or back tires depending on the terrain. Two-wheel drive autos, in contrast, send power either to the front or back depending on the individual make and model. The advantage of all-wheel drive is that power goes where your car needs it to improve traction in rough terrains, such as winter weather.

If you live in an area with heavy winters or wet, muddy springs, all-wheel drive is a smart choice. These cars can give drivers peace of mind that is well worth their extra price.

One of the cons is their gas mileage, which tends to be less than comparable two-wheel-drive cars. You will pay more upfront for all-wheel drive, plus more each time you gas up, so two-wheel drive cars are a better choice for budget shoppers.

Why Buy Snow Tires for Winter

Fans of snow tires like the ability to get better traction on winter roads just by putting on a new set of tires. Dedicated snow tires have a more flexible tread that grips the road and freezing conditions, which helps to reduce skids. These tires have a deeper groove than all-season tires, which increases traction on snow and ice. With all-season tires, there’s a risk of skidding if the tire treads become impacted by snow and ice.

If you live in an area that only sees snow occasionally, snow tires should suffice. As long as you remove them promptly at the end of winter, you will be able to use them for several years to come.

Winter tires or snow tires are not cheap, but they do cost less than an all-wheel-drive car. End-of-season sales often bring discounts. By planning ahead, you can save money. If you are planning to go out of the state, you may want to decide on the shipping factor as well. Know how to ship a car to another state that can save you a little more money in your pocket.

Now that you understand how snow tires are compared to all-wheel-drive vehicles, you can decide what’s best for you. With either choice, it’s important to stay safe and remember basic winter driving principles. 

Your Spring Cleaning Vehicle Checklist

woman on the road feeling ecstatic with her car spring cleaning her up on the air and basking in the sun

Car spring cleaning can help you make things easier and safer. Driving in the winter months can be challenging, and the dangers are not all behind the wheel. Even if you survive the ice and snow of winter, your car can suffer hidden damage. The road salts that make the highways safe can also cause rust in the exposed undercarriage of your vehicle, and the potholes that winter leaves behind can throw your car out of alignment and make driving more dangerous.

Now that the winter is finally gone and spring has sprung, it is time to give your car a spring cleaning of its own. Taking the time to repair the damage of winter and get your car ready for the hot weather ahead can keep you safer behind the wheel, and even extend the life of your vehicle. Here is a simple spring cleaning checklist for your car.

Give the undercarriage a thorough cleansing. The spring thaw is here, so hook up your hose and spray down the undercarriage of your car. This thorough cleaning will remove any residual road salt and other corrosive chemicals.

Check your wiper blades. The winter weather can take a toll on your windshield wipers, so make sure they are ready for those spring and summer thunderstorms. A new pair of wiper blades costs just a few dollars, and the extra visibility will make driving safer.

Clean your carpets and floor mats. You probably dragged in your fair share of road salt and other particles during the winter driving season, and now is the time to remove them. Start by pulling your floor mats and giving them a thorough cleaning, then do the same for your automotive carpeting.

Check the tire pressure. Your tires can lose a significant amount of pressure in cold weather, even if there is not a leak. Now is the time to check your tire pressure and inflate them if necessary. Be sure to check the tire pressure regularly, preferably every time you fill up the tank.

Give your windows a thorough spring cleaning. Visibility is important to your safety, so make sure your windows are sparkling clear. Use a special windshield cleaning tool to remove any accumulated residue from the inside of your windshield, and make sure your washer fluid reservoir is full.

Apply a fresh coat of wax to protect your paint from the harsh rays of the sun. The sun can get pretty intense in the summer months, but a good wax job can protect the finish and keep your vehicle looking like new.

Have your alignment checked. If you suspect your front end is out of alignment, have it checked and fixed right away. Problems with alignment will increase braking distance, cause your tires to wear unevenly and make emergency maneuvers even more dangerous.

Your car goes through a lot, and you want to take care of it right. Now that the winter season is finally gone, it is time to prepare your vehicle for the rigors of the warmer weather to come. The checklist above can help you get your car ready, enhancing your safety and making those summer road trips more fun. 

10 Steps to a Great Holiday Road Trip

holiday road trip

The holiday season is the perfect time for a family road trip. You probably have at least a few days off from work, and combining those days with a weekend or two could give you a great extended vacation. But before you hit the road in search of adventure (or turkey), you need to make sure your vehicle is ready to roll.

Whether you are heading off to grandma’s house, enjoying a much needed family vacation or just exploring in your own backyard, you do not want to spend your holiday on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.

So before you pull out of the driveway, follow this 10 point checklist to make sure your ride is ready to make the trip.

1. Do a quick visual inspection. Look for obvious issues with the vehicle, like flat spots on the tires or obvious rust on the undercarriage.

2. Examine your wiper blades. Are your wiper blades in good shape, or are they worn and in need of replacement?

3. Check and top off your fluids. Take a few minutes to check the engine oil, transmission fluid, wiper fluid, brake fluid and other essential liquids under the hood. Top off any that are low.

4. Recheck your fluid levels to look for leaks. Wait a day or two, and then check your fluid levels again. If they are noticeably lower, you could have a leak.

5. Check the tread on your tires. You do not want to embark on a holiday road trip on bald tires, so check the tread and make sure your tires are safe and reliable.

6. Inflate the tires to the recommended pressure. Once you know the tread is good, check the air pressure and make sure it matches the manufacturer’s recommendations. Add air if needed, and take a tire gauge with you on your trip.

7. Lighten the load. You will need room in the trunk for luggage, holiday presents and other essentials, so remove anything you do not need. Removing unneeded items can also improve your fuel economy and make the spare tire easier to get to.

8. Check the spare tire. Speaking of the spare tire, make sure it is fully inflated and ready to go. Also make sure you have a working jack and lug wrench in the vehicle.

9. Pack a vehicle emergency kit. From road flares to tire patch kits, pack what you need in your emergency kit. You never know when those items will come in handy.

10. Top off the tank and download a gas savings app. Make sure your gas tank is full before you leave home, and download an app that points you to the lowest gas prices on the road.

If you are planning a holiday road trip, you are not alone. Millions of your fellow citizens will be hitting the road this holiday season, but there is still time to get ready. This 10 point checklist can help you make sure your vehicle is ready to hit the road, so you can enjoy the holiday season in confidence.

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