British Columbia

Sam Tremblay offers winter driving tips for B.C. motorists

Winter driving tips from Sam Tremblay of Vancouver's Tremblay Motors.

Get your vehicle ready as things like a weak battery could cause problems in the cold

Slush and snow have been a big part of driving in B.C. so far this winter. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

With much of B.C. experiencing wintry conditions, many motorists have been slipping and sliding on roads around the province — snow and ice are obvious hazards during a season known for an increase in accidents.

Sam Tremblay of Vancouver's Tremblay Motors spoke with CBC's BC Almanac about three key tips to staying safe on the roads this winter.

1. Get your vehicle ready

Tremblay recommends getting your car into the shop for any required service before bad weather hits, topping up fluids and checking, in particular, that windshield wipers are in good shape and the battery has some life left.

"The battery has to work a lot harder in the cold," says Tremblay, so an older or weaker battery that limped along in the summer might give you problems come winter. Batteries tend to be good for about five years, says Tremblay.

2. Get winter tires — but don't think they'll save you

Tremblay recommends winter tires, which have softer rubber, if you're doing much driving over mountain passes or in parts of the province where it snows a lot. (On the coast, many drivers get by with all-season or all-weather tires, he said.)

But he gets frustrated by drivers who think that winter tires and a four-wheel drive vehicle mean they don't have to slow down in bad conditions.

"Once you're on black ice you have very little control, it doesn't matter how good your tires are. Speed is a big factor there."

Four-wheel drive will give you better traction in the snow, but won't make any difference in cornering and braking, he said.

3. If you start sliding, don't slam on the brakes

If you start sliding, newer cars with anti-lock brakes will help, said Tremblay, because the system will "essentially pump your brakes for you," helping your vehicle regain traction.

Without that feature, drivers should pump their brakes manually, rather than slamming on the brakes and holding, said Tremblay.

"You need to steer into the skid," said Tremblay, turning the car's wheels to align with the direction the vehicle is sliding, which will help you straighten out.

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