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Debunked: The 7 Biggest Winter Driving Myths

From the threat of black ice to a blinding whiteout, most drivers know to take extra caution when winter rolls around. Yet could you be heeding advice that has no basis in truth? Find out now.

Myth 1: You should let your car idle before driving in cold weather. Running your car before hitting the road wastes time and fuel. Even worse, the carbon monoxide a car emits can be harmful to your health. The “idling car” myth probably gained traction back when cars didn’t have technology to properly warm a carburetor. Today, that’s not a concern, which is why many experts recommend not bothering with this extra step.

Myth 2: Letting a little air out of your tires will create better traction. This is another myth that isn’t only wrong, but potentially dangerous. Tires were meant to be inflated to a specific pressure per square inch (or psi—find your car’s by looking in the driver’s side door jamb or in your owner’s manual). Keeping them underinflated won't give your wheels better traction—in fact, it may make it harder to stop.

Myth 3: Four-wheel drive makes it totally safe to drive in the snow. Four-wheel drive is definitely a bonus when it comes to driving in snow, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stop when driving in snow. That’s because stopping relies more on having the right snow tires and driving correctly.

Myth 4: Pouring hot water on your windshield makes ice melt fast. Definitely try another hack for clearing snow and ice off your car, because hot water could crack your glass.

Myth 5: Snow tires are a waste  of money. See Myth 3.

Myth 6: You only need two snow tires. Only buying and using two snow tires for your wheels can create a dangerous imbalance. For safety’s sake, it’s worth it to invest in four snow tires.

Myth 7: Put your car in neutral if you start to skid. This myth had some truth to it back when most cars were rear-wheel drive with no ABS and automatic transmission. With today’s cars, shifting into neutral when you start to skid won’t help things—and it could make you lose even more control over your car. A better option is to leave your car in gear and carefully steer your car in the direction the rear wheels are sliding.

Bonus myth: Most of your body heat escapes through your head. Sorry, but the phrase you’ve probably heard a hundred times is also false. The myth is believed to be a flawed interpretation of a vaguely scientific experiment the U.S. military conducted in the 1950s. It involved volunteers dressed in Arctic survival suits who were exposed to bitterly cold conditions. Because their heads were the only part of their bodies left uncovered, most of their heat was lost that way.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

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