Likely most people think of all-wheel drive as a winter-weather feature, designed to help drivers navigate icy roads and slippery conditions. But just because the weather is warming up doesn’t mean roads are safe, strictly speaking. Springtime roads can be slick from sudden showers or beaten up after a long winter. Fortunately, Volkswagen cars with 4MOTION® All-Wheel Drive are designed to stay in control year round. With that in mind, here are 5 tips and tricks to get your car ready for spring.
After months of icy conditions, asphalt roads may be chipped and damaged, leaving large potholes in the road. After a spring shower, potholes can be deceptive as there’s no telling how deep a puddle lies. No matter what you’re driving, do your best to avoid potholes, which can damage your tires and even your undercarriage. Because they can come up quickly, it’s best to maintain a safe distance between your car and any vehicles in front of you, giving you enough time to spot them on the road. Try to avoid any sudden swerves if you can, but know that if you have to make a tight turn, Volkswagen’s 4MOTION® All-Wheel Drive system can help keep the car in control by redistributing the power to the wheels with the best grip.
And when potholes unavoidable, slow down and try to take them as gently as possible. If you hit a particularly nasty bump, keep an ear out for any noises coming from your exhaust, as well as any shaking or drifting, which could mean a problem with your vehicle’s alignment. When safe to do so, pull over and check your tires for pressure, cracks, or bulges—which should be repaired immediately if found.
Tires are not the only season-specific equipment to monitor on your car. As the weather warms up, refill your windshield wiper fluid with an all-season or warm-weather formula, and check the wiper blades for any damage they may have accumulated after months of scraping ice. Even if the blades seem fine, they should be tightened and cleaned. Then, take your car to get a good wash to get rid of all that winter grime (don’t forget the undercarriage, where road salt can accumulate), and consider adding a coat of wax to protect against spring showers. Last but not least, spring is a good season to take your car for its yearly check, as winter driving can be rough on a car’s alignment and more.
Though spring means warmer weather, thaws don’t happen all at once. Especially in early spring, temperatures frequently dip at or below the freezing point. Combine this with rain and wet weather, and ice can stick along roads much later into the year than one might expect. So just because the sun is shining and the weather is warming up, be prepared for ice on the roads, and be particularly cautious of black ice. An always-on AWD system like 4MOTION® All-Wheel drive will help you stay in control by reacting intelligently to the road conditions. So if a Volkswagen model equipped with 4MOTION® All-Wheel Drive hits a patch of black ice, the car will quickly and automatically redistribute the power from the wheels that have lost their grip to the ones that have the firmest grasp on the road.
Warm weather means the end of winter hibernation, so be on the lookout for animals, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists who’ve come outside to enjoy the nice weather. Drive slowly, remain aware of your surroundings, and remember to share the road.
Don’t remove your winter tires as soon as the temperatures reach above freezing—wait until the average temperature settles above 7 degrees Celsius. This way, you can be assured that the roads have properly thawed. In the meantime, check your tire pressure consistently, as the frequent temperature changes can cause your tire pressure to fluctuate. While systems like 4MOTION® All-Wheel Drive can help offset the reduced traction of a low-pressure tire by redistributing traction aware from the imbalanced tire, it’s simply unsafe to drive much distance on tires with pressure that’s either too high or too low. Check your tire pressure any time the temperature changes, and definitely make sure your summer tires are properly pressurized when it’s time to put the winter tires back in storage.
In some ways, winter driving is actually safer than spring and summer. In the United States, for example, one study found car fatalities drop with high amounts of snow, due to the fact that people either stay home or drive with care. But when spring arrives, drivers can be lulled into a false sense of security, believing roads are clean and clear, when in fact there are just different sets of dangers. An always-on all-wheel drive system can be your best tool in situations like these. All-wheel drive’s most obvious benefit is during harsh winter conditions, but 4MOTION® All-Wheel Drive is engaged and prepared at all times, meaning it’s ready no matter what the road sends your way.