Top 10 Winter Safety Features to Look for When Buying a Used Car

A winter car doesn't have to have all of the bells and whistles, but buying one that is equipped with special winter driving features is the best way to avoid being stranded in the snow.

So how do you know which features you should have in your car this winter, and which ones you can do without? Here are ten important features to look for when buying a used car this winter.

1. Winter Tires

Winter tires are the most important car features for winter driving. These tires feature special treading and are designed to withstand snow, ice, and salt. If the used car you’re purchasing comes with winter tires, be sure to check them thoroughly for signs of wear.

2. Windshield Wiper Defrosters

Windshield wiper defrosters are especially useful car features for winter driving. They feature heated elements under the wiper blades that help melt away caked-on ice and snow.

3. Heated Steering Wheel

Wool mittens may be great at keeping your hands toasty, but they’re not so great when it comes to gripping a steering wheel. A heated steering wheel will eliminate the need for gloves and mittens while you’re driving.

4. Antilock Braking System (ABS)

This is one of the most important winter features in a used car. Antilock brakes help you avoid skidding by preventing your wheels from locking up. All cars manufactured after 2012 have ABS as a standard feature.

5. Engine Block Heater

Severely cold weather can affect your car’s battery life. An engine block heater will keep your engine warm and improve the chances that your car will start on those sub-zero mornings.

6. Heated Side Mirrors

Heated side mirrors will help keep your side-view mirrors free of fog, ice, and snow. This feature can be set to activate automatically when the temperature drops below a certain point.

7. Headlight Washers

Headlight washers clear away snow, slush, ice, and road salt to help you maintain maximum visibility in poor weather conditions. Some vehicles feature heated headlight wipers, which help further dislodge snow and ice.

8. All-Wheel Drive

All-wheel drive supplies power to all four wheels of your car to provide better control when driving in snow or driving up an icy slope. If your budget doesn’t allow for all-wheel drive, consider a car with front-wheel drive.

9. Traction Control System (TCS)

An option in many in newer cars, traction control prevents your wheels from spinning and allows you to accelerate without slipping on ice and snow. Having traction control can also help reduce your insurance premium, so it’s worth paying a few hundred dollars more for this extra winter driving feature.

10. Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Available in many newer vehicle models, electronic stability control (ESC) detects when certain wheels are spinning faster than the others — such as when skidding over ice — and redirects power to the wheels that need more traction.

When purchasing a car to use during the winter, buying a new model with all of the latest technology isn’t necessary. You don’t even need to have all of the above ten features for safe winter driving. What’s important is that your winter car be reliable, safe, and able to withstand harsh weather conditions. The above list should give you a good starting point for deciding which features you should have in your car this winter.

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