Driving and cold car care tips for winter and snow weather
windshield wiper blades, frozen and stuck locks and doors, emergency supplies, tire chains

prep your car for cold weather - snow driving - snow tires, tire chains - salted roads
front wiper de-icers
Subaru windshield with the optional front wiper deicer heats the lower windshield under the front blades to defrost and warm them.
Part of the All Weather Package available on all lines. Outback shown.

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Cold Weather

Driving tips for cold weather

Check your radiator fluid.
Check and top off windshield washer fluid.
Check your tire pressure, it changes in cold weather. The tire pressure monitor light will come on when the temperature drops, be sure to inflate to the proper pressure.
Keep at least 1/3 - 1/2 tank of gas to minimize condensation.
Before starting the car turn OFF all accessores and lights - it's much better for the battery.
Let the engine run for 30 seconds or more so the fluids circulate (newer Subarus have the blue 'cold engine' reminder light).
Windshield wiper blades. If you have the All Weather Package (heated outside mirrors, front wiper de-icer and heated seats) turn on the front wiper deicers to free the blades if there's any frost or ice. Do not use warm water on the windshield, it can crack the glass. And of course use the heated seats and rear defroster.
> Tip Lift wiper blades and arms off the glass so they won't freeze to the windshield. Or place newspaper under the wiper blades and they won't stick.
> Tip Clean wiper blades with windshield washer fluid.
> Tip Door lock frozen? Heat the key with a match.  Lock deicer is available at most auto parts, hardware stores and locksmiths.
> Tip Door frozen closed? Help prevent this - lightly wipe silicone on the rubber seals. Use silicone spray on the rubber door seal. Be sure to wipe off excess and overspray.
> Tip Windshield fogging up quickly? Turn OFF the front defroster before turning off the car and exiting the car, ie set the heat control to the vent or floor setting before turning off the car. This will slow down the fogging up of the car because cold air entering the car won't enter onto the warm windshield. Also turn off the fan.

Things to carry in the car  cell phone, flashlight that works, ice scraper, emergency reflective triangle or flare, blanket, gloves, bag of sand, shovel, common sense.

Snow driving

Snow driving: see cold weather tips above
Tires-  Are your tires ok, do they have lots of tread and are they properly inflated?
Windshield-  Can you see out the windshield? Gently scrape snow off,
Snow on the body- Don't scrape or brush the snow off all the way down to the paint, because it can scratch it. Get most of it off and let the car warm up and melt the rest.
Gas tank-  Keep at least 1/3 - 1/2 tank of gas to minimize condensation and also to keep warm if you get stuck.
Accelerate slowly, avoid quick or jack-rabbit starts
Braking-  gently tap the brakes to slow down. Anticipate stops, lift off the gas pedal. Downshift if you can with the automatic or manual transmission.
Avoid hard brakings If you have to brake hard, don't pump, just push down and hold so the anti-lock brakes kick in. Try to steer into the skid .
Avoid accelerating while turning.
Watch for snow build-up around the tires
Watch out for the 'other guy'  esp the one who thinks he's invincible and laws of physics don't count.

Subaru front wiper deicer, part of the All Weather package
many Subarus have the All Weather Package which includes Front Wiper Deicers which heats and defrosts the lower windshield where the wiper blades rest and also softens the wipers so they work better

Tire Chains and Traction Tires

Chains are NOT recommended on any Subaru due to lack of clearance between the inside of the tire and suspension, struts, brake lines etc. Damage isn't covered under warranty.

The clearance issue is on the inside of the front tires where is very little room between the tire and suspension components and brake lines (see photos below)
When a moving car is steered and the front wheels turn, the tire sidewall rolls a bit and the chain will not lie tight and flat against the tire and it can easily damage suspension and brake components.


1, WINTER TIRES-  these are the best for all around, frequent cold and snow winter weather driving. Ask your tire shop about winter cold weather tires, like Bridgestone Blizzack for example, that are really grippy on cold surfaces. There are always old fashioned snow tires too.
All tires must match...  all 4 tires must always match in an all-wheel-drive car.

2. STUDDED WINTER TIRES are great for all around snow and ice traction but they're noisy and rumbly and over time can damage driveways and roads.

3. BUT I NEED MORE TRACTION... If you need some temporary traction, consider the Quick Trak, Spider Spike or a similar traction device because they don't go on the inside of the tire. Various chains such as the Shur Grip Z by Security Chain Company in Oregon are reported to work, but this is unconfirmed.

4. TIRE PRESSURE MONITORS - are you getting new wheels or tires? Its illegal to disable a required safety device like an airbag, seatbelt, or tire pressure monitors. If your car came with tire pressure monitors, they're required and the tire dealer has to install them when putting new wheels or tires on the car
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), clarified provision 49 U.S.C. 30122(b) within the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010. 
The provision exactly states:  "A manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or motor vehicle repair business may not knowingly make inoperative any part of a device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment in compliance with an applicable motor vehicle safety standard...."
In other words, if your car came with tire pressure monitors, the tire dealer is required to install them when putting new wheels or tires on the car.

there is little clearance on the inner side of the front tires to use tire chains

photos showing how little clearance there is on a inside of a Subaru front tire
brake and suspension  is too close to the inner side of the tire to allow tire chains

photo shows little clearance on the inner side of a tire. Outback Shown

melts the ice and damages your car

Salt over time can corrode the body, under-carriage, brake lines and other metal fittings.

Before the Salted Road Season and Anytime
Stop the damage early. Corrosion might not show for years but once it starts can be expensive to repair.

Touch up rock chips. Your dealer has matching paint.
Hose underneath the car to rinse off debris. Run the car through a car wash and choose the undercarriage wash if offered.
Wax the car before the winter months. This will protect the paint and make it harder for salt to dry

End of Salted Road Season

Wash the car. Thoroughly hose under the hood (spray setting), around the wheel wells, underneath the car.
Wax the car again to protect the paint during hot dry months

Forester XT