What to know if you’ll be driving in subfreezing weather

Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 5:45 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2022 at 12:04 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With an arctic blast expected this week across Georgia, it is paramount for drivers to be prepared. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Heed the experts, not online ‘hacks’

A new social media trend meant to help you defrost your windshield could have you reaching for your wallet.

We talked to mechanics about what you need to know.

Stay up to date on winter weather by downloading the WRDW Weather App on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

If you type “winter car hacks” in the search bar on TikTok, you’ll see hundreds of videos telling you to pour hot water right onto your windshield but beware, this could cause it to crack.

Delroy Henry at The Garage on Gordon Highway says you’re better off taking an extra five minutes to let your car warm up, or you could be in danger.


“One day you might go out and crank it and go to move it, and the engine could seize up,” he said.

Another concern before hitting the road is your tires. Ryan Colley says it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your tire pressure.

“It’s definitely going to drop when it gets colder outside, and you won’t notice a tremendous drop, but you will notice a few. It’ll drop probably a few points or two,” he said.

Delroy says to get your car checked well before any long-distance travel, so there are no surprises.

“You know don’t wait 10, 20,000 miles to change your oil. Change it on time, 3,000 to 5,000 miles,” he said.

Georgia mechanic Ashley Ball recommends that on Saturday morning, you let your car run for one to two minutes. By doing this, the oil inside the engine starts to thicken as the weather gets colder so what happens is, it allows that oil to warm up and start to lubricate the proper parts of the engine.

Ball says you should top off your antifreeze and check your tire pressure. He says every 10 degrees of ambient air temperature (the temperature outside) you lose around one pound of air pressure.

“We recommend 40 pounds of air pressure in each tire,” Ball said.

He says if your battery is around two to three years old, get it tested or replaced.

“As the colder weather starts to come in, the batteries start pulling down, they don’t crank as well as they did when it’s hot outside. Two things that kills batteries is hot weather and cold weather,” Ball said.

If all goes well and your car starts, experts say you need to be prepared for possible issues on the road. Remember to bring jackets, blankets, food, water, a flashlight, batteries, and maybe most important: a phone charger you can use in your car.

Quick tips

  • Have a full tank of gas.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Use your blinkers and drive safely.
  • Always use your judgment behind the wheel.
  • Bring hats, gloves, a balaclava, earmuffs and a scarf to protect your face from the bitter cold.
  • Tires should be inspected to ensure they are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth.
  • Make sure your car battery is charged. Check with your local mechanic or visit AAA to make sure your car has a good battery.
  • Don’t use cruise control in precipitation and freezing temperatures.
  • Always travel with a cellphone, car charger, portable charger.
  • Keep your phone charged and keep a portable charger with you.
  • Equip your vehicle with a snow shovel, scraper, and some warm clothing and blankets.
  • Make sure you have an emergency roadside kit including a flashlight, ice scraper, jumper cables, flares and medicines.
  • Check washer fluid and anti-freeze, to ensure they are at adequate levels.
  • Make sure to get some bags of salt if it gets icy on the sidewalks and roads.
  • Stay safe while driving on black ice
  • Drive slowly and smoothly. Avoid sudden hard acceleration, braking, or steering. With antilock brakes, use steady pressure – don’t pump. Pumping disables the antilock brakes and makes a skid more likely.
  • Watch for icy surfaces on bridges and intersections, even if the rest of the road seems to be in good condition.
  • If you get stuck in snow or ice, straighten the wheel, and accelerate slowly. Add sand, traction mats, or cat litter under the drive wheels to help avoid spinning the tires.
  • If you’re stalled, remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter.
  • Don’t idle for a long time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.
  • If your tires lose traction and you begin to skid, continue to look, and steer in the direction you want to go. If the drive wheels start to spin or slide while going up a hill, ease off the accelerator slightly and then gently resume speed.
  • Keep your hazard lights on if you’re stuck on the side of the road.