Winter is not the optimal time for a road trip. You battle with the forces of nature, such as the cold breeze, snow, ice, and slippery roads. Winter driving involves risk, yet a well-equipped car with winter safety features can help you master the challenging road conditions.

Purchasing a used car is not an easy task however sometimes you can find a good quality car and save money. Before purchasing a used vehicle, it’s important to consider its winter safety features for the best driving experience. Let’s start with the top two winter safety features to consider before purchasing your next used vehicle...

1.     Snow Tires VS. All-Seasons Tires

Traction is an asset that must not be overlooked, especially for winter. Some prefer to avoid the expense of winter tires, opting to use all-season tires instead. However, all-seasons tires used in winter involves risk. The key difference between winter tires and all-season tires is that winter tires are actually soft enough to grip roads that are covered in snow and ice. This guarantees accelerating, braking, and turning safety. This is safer than all-seasons tires that are hard and in the cold, become even harder, lacking the grip necessary for winter driving.

2.     All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive (AWD) is perfect for winter driving. You might be wondering how an all-wheel drive works. The AWD system works by automatically splitting the power delivery to the front and rear axles, connected to the individual wheels. This engages all of the wheels, providing the power needed to climb up a snowy hill. A combination of snow tires and all-wheel drive is guaranteed to enhance your winter driving experience.

You can also consider getting a used car at a lower cost that has four-wheel drive (4WD). It works by delivering power to one axel at a time, unless prompted by the click of a button to send power to both axles. Four-wheel drive offers superior traction for off-roading however isn’t as effective in snow as AWD.

The Holy Trinity of Winter Safety Features

There are three winter safety features that you should take into consideration when purchasing your next vehicle. These include the electronic stability control (ESC), anti-lock braking system (ABS), and the traction control system (TCS). If the used car you’re looking at doesn’t already include these three features, you should think about installing them separately. See below for more information…   

1.     Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

The ESC provides lateral traction to assist drivers from losing control when making sideways movements, as well as stabilizes the car for manoeuvring snowy and icy roads. The ESC uses sensors to detect when the wheels have lost traction and responds by engaging the brakes and applying varying degrees of pressure to the wheels.

The ESC is a must-have for anyone that’s prone to over steering. It’s so effective that it reduces single-car vehicle crashes by 25%.

Don’t get discouraged when looking for the ESC feature. Sometimes, it’s listed under a different name, including Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Active Stability Control (ASC), Automatic Stability Control + Traction (ASC + T), and Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

2.     Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

According to research, road accidents happen more frequently in the winter. Driving on snow can be dangerous because sometimes, the wheels can get caught. Traditional brakes always maintain consistent pressure, which can cause dangerous slides, whereas anti-lock brakes adjust brake pressure for wheel synchronization.

ABS detects any wheels that are decelerating at a lower rate than the rate of deceleration of the rest of the vehicle. It places the mismatched wheel back up to speed by loosening up on the brake pressure. ABS keeps all of the wheels spinning at the same speed, keeping car stable.

3.     Traction Control System (TCS)

You can think of the TCS and the ABS as Yin and Yang. While the ABS decelerates wheels on a need-be basis, the TCS accelerates wheels. The TCS can detect when a wheel loses its traction and is spinning faster than the other wheels. A signal gets sent to the electronic control unit, which causes the relevant wheel to reduce its speed.

It’s up for debate whether TCS is actually helpful for the winter. Certain situations, like when your car is stuck in a deep pile of snow, requires you to accelerate. Therefore, a reduction in tire speed might not help. 

Heating Features for Better Winter Driving

Heat can greatly improve your winter driving experience. You should consider these four features before purchasing your next used car, including remote start control, engine block heater, heated windshield wiper blades, and heated seats. Read on for more information…

1.     Remote Start Control

The real advantage of the remote start control system is that you can start and heat up your vehicle from the comfort of your own home with just the click of a button. Start your car 10-15 minutes in advance, giving it enough time to warm up. It’s also better for your car to be warm before driving because it puts less stress on the engine. You can also use your remote for automated locking, unlocking, and locating your vehicle.

2.     Engine Block Heater

Imagine waking up late for work. You skip breakfast, dress up hurriedly, and rush outside in the cold to get to your car, only to find out that the engine won’t start. An engine block heater can be your saving grace. It works by applying heat directly to your engine to make it start.

There are three types of block heaters: those installed directly on the engine, those in the heater hose, and those in the lower radiator hose. Engine block heaters that are installed directly on the engine block are the recommended choice. They come with an extension cord that can be connected to your household’s electrical power.

3.     Heated Windshield Wiper Blades

Snowy roads that cause zero visibility are a recipe for disaster. Traditional windshield wipers can sometimes, just get piled with snow however electrical windshield wiper blades can heat up for easier snow removal. This improves visibility and reduces the chances of having an accident.

4.     Heated Seats

Most used cars on the market today, include the heated seats feature. The driver’s comfort is important, especially during winter wherein the roads are extra dangerous. Heated seats help the driver withstand the cold and focus on the road. Heated seats are also energy efficient, using the stored electrical power of the alternator.

One Last Fancy Feature for the Winter

Headlight Wipers

Headlight wipers can remove snow that has accumulated on the headlights. It’s important for the headlight to be free of snow, especially at night when the lights are needed for visibility. If the used car you’re looking at doesn’t include headlight wipers you can purchase them and then get a professional mechanic install them for you.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! To Buy Cars.

Here are some reasons why winter is the greatest car-buying season:

  • Low Dealership

Spring is when the demand for cars is high and haggling becomes more of a challenge. Winter, on the other hand, is not a market season. During winter, there are fewer buyers and more desperate car dealers, aiming to reduce their inventory. This makes winter the season for good cars deals, whether new or old.

  • More Time to Weigh Out Options

Another advantage of there being fewer buyers is that you will be competing with fewer people for the same used vehicles. This buys you more time to check out your best options.

  • Winter-Equipped Cars

Cars sold in winter are equipped with winter features. You’re more likely to find cars that include snow tires, heated windshield wiper blades, heated seats, and other important winter features.

  • Convertibles and Sports Cars

When dealers get stuck with convertibles and sports cars at the summer’s end, they’re more likely to put them on sale. Winter is the prime time to invest in a luxury convertible at a lower rate. Make sure to get a good quality car cover for storage over winter.

Tips to Remember Before Purchasing a Used Car

1.     Inspect the car.

Take what the salesman says with a grain of salt. Remember that he’s trying to make a sale. Always perform a test drive and inspect the features of the car thoroughly. Functioning heated seats? Smooth brakes? Fully inflated tires? Comfortable driver and passenger seats? Responsive steering wheel? As much as possible, check each feature on your list.

2.     Know the cost of repairs.

Keep in mind that repair and maintenance costs can dramatically impact the overall price of the used vehicle. Get a professional mechanic’s opinion to know if any car parts will require fixing and if so, ask for a rough estimate. Some car dealerships will include a vehicle history records.

3.     Look for warranty.

According to Philip Reed, Edmunds’ Senior Advice Editor, it’s ideal for you to look for warranty and get it transferred to your name. Some used cars, especially those that are only a few years old, may be covered under warranty. If the used car you’re looking at has a warranty, get it transferred to your name.

 Conclusion

Safety, warmth, and reliability are assets that you should consider when purchasing a used vehicle. Used cars don’t necessarily have to be equipped with all the features mentioned above however they should have good wheels and all-wheel drive for safety. Check out your local car dealerships and look for the safety features listed here for better driving this winter.