Winter Driving Tips

Living in the upper midwest has many benefits but there are also some challenges.  As cold weather approaches, remember the roadways can become slippery rather quickly and without much notice. You can no longer drive like it is summer.  You will need more space between you and the vehicle in front of you if you must stop quickly. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to stop but sliding into the car in front of you.

Plan extra time to get where you are going.

Watch those around you. It always seems that during the first icy or snowy day everyone had forgotten how to drive on slippery roads.  You can be doing everything right but if the person next to you crashes into you it still leaves a mark.

If you are traveling, we want your trip to be a safe one so here is some helpful information:

Call ahead for road conditions -

  • You can dial 511 to get info for the state you are currently in.
  • SD Road Conditions........866.697.3511
  • ND Road Conditions........866.696.3511
  • MN Road Conditions........800.542.0220
  • IA Road Conditions...........800.288.1047
  • NE Road Conditions........402.471.4533

Another useful tool is to visit to determine road conditions.

Winter car starting and safety tips:

Prevention is the best advice for winter car starting.  Each fall have your vehicle winterized by a professional mechanic.  Be sure the following are checked:

  • battery tested
  • radiator and hoses inspected
  • anti-freeze levels checked
  • oil changed
  • battery cables and boots examined
  • distributor cap inspected
  • spark plugs examined
  • thermostat checked
  • check tire air pressure
  • keep headlights and taillights clean

Always carry in your car:

  • warm blanket
  • extra warm clothes (especially mittens and stocking hats)
  • jumper cables
  • gas additive (isopropyl type additive)
  • extra windshield washer fluid

In addition, consider carrying the following in a "Winter Car Kit":

  • matches and candles
  • food items like granola, candy bars, instant soup
  • battery operated radio
  • shovel
  • tow chain/rope
  • small bag of sand or kitty litter
  • flashlight
  • large box of facial tissue


Never let your gas tank get more than half empty.  Even with today's gaoline, fuel lines can freeze up in extreme South Dakota cold weather.

On particularly cold days, start your car and let it run for several minutes at least once every 6 hours.  This prevents your battery and engine from getting too cold to start.

When driving remember road conditions vary and so will the time it takes for ice to build up.  One surface might be fine and the next one icy.

Skip the cruise control when the roads are slippery.  Your cruise control may accelerate when you least want it to.

If you are stranded, stay with your car.  If you run your car engine make sure the exhaust pipe is not obstructed.

The basic tip for winter weather travel is to take your time and plan ahead.