How to Shop for a Winter-Ready Car

Seasonal - Snowy Windshield

If you’re terrified of driving in snowy weather and are in the market for a car, you’re probably thinking you won’t be truly safe unless you can afford to buy a tank. If so, we’ve got some good news for you. You don’t need a tank to stay safe on the road in winter, just as you don’t need to buy a brand new car to ensure that a smattering of freshly laid powder won’t send you spinning into a ditch somewhere. Here are a few things to look for in a used car that’ll keep you rolling safely through harsh winter weather.

  • ABS. You’ve probably been taught that you should never slam your brakes in wet, snowy, or icy conditions. But sometimes instinct takes over and your feet do what they do. In these situations, ABS can save your skin. ABS (which stands for anti-lock brake system) stops your car by using a pumping action on your brakes. This prevents your wheels from locking up. ABS comes in handy throughout all seasons, not only during winter.
  • AWD. All-wheel drive is similar to four-wheel drive in that all four of your tires are being powered by your engine. The big difference is that four-wheel drive has to be turned on, while AWD is always engaged. AWD is far more effective than front- or rear-wheel drive – but if you only have a choice between front- or rear-wheel, choose front-wheel drive. This gives you better steering control.
  • Front- and side-impact air bags. Sometimes, no matter how skilled of a driver you are and no matter what kind of new-fangled automatic controls your car’s equipped with, you simply can’t avoid a collision. With that in mind, pick a car that’ll keep you safe in the event of an accident. You probably already know the importance of getting a car with lap and shoulder seatbelts, but the best possible scenario (apart from not crashing at all) is to drive a car with front- and side-impact air bags.
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You don’t need a new car to pilot you through adverse weather conditions. As for a tank – can you imagine the gas consumption? Instead, save yourself a bunch of money and take a look at the used car market. As long as you choose a car that’s got all the right safety features, you’ll be able to get where you’re going safe and sound.