When you’re getting ready to purchase a car, one of the most important considerations is the climate in which you live. If you live in a place with harsh winters, or the chance of snow several times a year, it’s wise to make sure the vehicle you choose is ready to meet challenging driving conditions. Here are some of the vital elements to look for when choosing a vehicle to handle a snowy commute.
- All-Wheel Drive or 4-Wheel Drive
Driving a front- or rear-wheel drive vehicle in the snow can be dangerous. Two-wheel drive cars don’t generally handle well on snow and ice and can be more prone to sliding and slipping than vehicles with all-wheel drive. A car with all-wheel drive can be a good choice for drivers who regularly travel mountainous or dirt roads even in good weather. For those who just need better traction occasionally, a 2-wheel drive vehicle with optional 4-wheel drive may be a better option.
- Heated Seats
Driving in snowy weather can be a pleasure when you are comfortable inside your car’s cabin. Heated seats are a nice upgrade for drivers who routinely drive in cold and snowy weather. Seat heaters are especially important for vehicles with leather upholstery, which can get extremely cold in winter weather.
- Remote Start Functionality
Owners who store their cars in attached garages may not find a remote starter worth the extra expense, but it can be a priceless upgrade for those who store their cars outside in the winter. A remote starter can allow you to begin heating up your vehicle without having to walk outside. Instead, you can start off your commute in a vehicle with a warm cabin and defrosted windows.
- Heated Side Mirrors
While most vehicles have integrated defrosters in the front and rear windshields, it’s important to think about the side mirrors as well. Having full visibility when you are driving in the snow is extremely important, so upgrading to heated side mirrors can be a smart investment. This additional feature is sometimes available individually or as part of an “all-weather” upgrade package.
- All-Weather Mats
Mud is a common occurrence in snowy climates, and it can be difficult to keep floor mats clean when you are dealing with snow, slush, and mud. Switching to plastic all-weather mats can provide several benefits. Most mats have grooved textures to trap dirt and moisture, and these styles can usually be hosed off instead of requiring vacuuming.
- Anti-Lock Brakes
Improper braking can lead to loss of control quickly on snowy, icy roads. While anti-lock brakes are fairly standard on most new cars, not all older models have them. If you plan on driving in the snow frequently, it’s important to invest in a vehicle with anti-lock brakes. You may also want to look for a vehicle that has automatic brake force distribution that reacts according to which wheels have the most traction.
- Traction and Stability Control Systems
Vehicles that can adapt to slippery road conditions can provide a safer driving experience. You may want to consider a vehicle with traction and/or stability control. In general, traction control can sense when wheels have little or no traction and can divert power to the other wheels. This can prevent wheels from spinning uselessly on ice. Stability control can sense sideways motion (common when skidding on ice) and attempt to return the vehicle to a straight course.
- Good Clearance
When you want to upgrade to a car that is snow friendly, consider choosing a vehicle that’s tall enough to push through winter conditions. Low-to-the-ground sedans can have trouble in deep snow, whereas SUVs or trucks with higher clearances can perform better in the winter weather.
Driving in snow can be a challenge, but the right vehicle can make it easier and safer. Anti-lock brakes, all-wheel drive, and heated seats are some things to look for in a snow-friendly car.