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The Modern Car in Winter: How Technology Has Made Winter Driving Easier

A car parked in a driveway in front of a house covered in snow

An overnight snowfall is a wonderful sight to behold, but this awe can turn to dread when you head outside to clean off your car to go to work. Unless your vehicle is in a garage, there are several steps you must take before you’re ready to travel. Fortunately, many owners have new technologies at their disposal that offer relief, making driving your car in winter much easier than in decades past.

Electronic Fob TechnologyKey fob

New vehicles typically come with a key fob, which replaces the earlier two-key arrangement for unlocking the doors, starting the ignition and opening the trunk or liftgate. A key fob is vehicle specific, which means it’s programmed to work only with that vehicle. Special coding inside the fob sends a signal to your vehicle’s computer, instructing it to lock or unlock the doors. In some cases, the fob activates the trunk or liftgate and allows for push-button start via the ignition.

More advanced fobs provide winter-weary owners with additional tools. These fobs allow remote start, control heating and cooling and supply an alarm and other functions, including seat and steering-wheel heating. You can turn your car on before you even step outside, saving you time, effort and frozen fingers.

Fuel Management Systems

The modern technology residing under your car’s hood has also made your fuel management system better equipped to manage extreme winter conditions. Such systems include a fuel pump, which draws gasoline from the tank and pushes it through lines that are strategically located to avoid overheating then through a filter and to the engine. Once at the engine, a fuel injection system takes over, ensuring a crank even on the coldest morning. The system also includes a fuel pressure regulator to control the fuel-air mixture as it enters the combustion chamber, causing ignition. Older cars typically didn’t have fuel injection, so starting a vehicle often took longer as the carburetor struggled to supply the proper fuel-air mixture.

Anti-Lock Brake Systems (ABS)

Modern cars come with anti-lock brake systems that aid in all kinds of weather, including winter driving. When working in tandem with electronic stability control, ABS enables you to maintain control of your vehicle on wet roads. Specifically, ABS prevents brake lockup and typically shortens stopping distance when skidding. It’s a safety feature credited with reducing accidents, preventing injuries and saving lives.

Winter Preparation

Of course, regular maintenance of the fuel management system is necessary to avoid a winter breakdown. Besides replacing fuel filters and other parts on schedule, owners may use select fuel additives for stabilizing the fuel, to clean the fuel injectors and for lubricating the upper engine cylinders. The stabilizer attribute is especially important for owners who store their cars for many months, as it keeps gasoline from separating into water and its component chemicals when idle. Specifically, it serves as an anti-corrosive agent and keeps fuel lines from clogging.

Winter driving offers special challenges, but thanks to modern technologies, it’s less risky and more comfortable than ever. Once you’ve experienced modern engine starting, ABS, climate control systems, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, it’s hard to go back.

Check out all the heating and cooling products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on caring for your car in winter, chat with an expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.


Matthew C. Keegan View All

Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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