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The Ultimate Guide to Winter Driving In Boston

By December 20, 2016Blog

Image via Sense and Sustainability via Fun107

Like it or not, winter is here in Boston…time to pull out the shovels. From digging out your car after a storm to navigating patches of black ice, we know this time of year can be tough in New England.

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Whether you’re new to the city or have been living here your whole life, here’s a guide to help you get through the next few months.

Winter Car Prep

  • Check your tire pressure and tire wear. Better grip, better trip. Tires that are less worn will provide better traction on ice and snow.
  • Stash an extra bottle of windshield wiper fluid in your car. During the winter, we use our wiper fluid a lot more. You don’t want to run out on a long drive home; clean windows are key to a safe ride.
  • Make sure you have enough anti-freeze.
  • Get your brakes checked, especially if you’ve been having any issues with them.
  • Gas up! It’s easy to coast around with less than a full tank of gas—especially when you’re driving around in the city—but there are two main reasons to keep more than a half tank of gas at all times:
    • In the winter, we spend more time in traffic jams and it can take longer to get around. Gas up so you don’t get stuck in a cold car!
    • A fuller tank will keep out more condensation. Condensation can freeze and expand in the winter creating blockages in your gas line.

Driving Tips

  • Always leave extra space in front of you (aka winter is not the time to tailgate). Stopping distance increases in the ice and snow. If you or the car in front of you should stop or slide, you want to have enough time to stop and/or avoid a collision.
  • If you’re trying to accelerate or slow down, do it slower than you normally would. It can take more time for your car to slow down if it’s snowy out, so give yourself a few extra seconds when stopping and going.
  • Hills are tough in the snow, just ask these poor drivers in Montreal. Don’t try to power up them or you run the risk of your wheels spinning out. Build momentum at the bottom of the hill but travel slow and steady down the hill.
  • Be wary of potholes in the winter! They will mess your car up, trust us. Oh, and be careful of new potholes that may form as temperatures fluctuate throughout the winter.


  • Know that the way you normally park just won’t cut it once the snow hits. For example, say you normally get home around 6 and have no problem finding a spot. If it’s been snowing, don’t expect that primo spot right in front of your door that you usually get — expect to hunt around for a while…
  • If a snow emergency is called and you can not park on the street, find a municipal lot or participating parking garage. Many times, you will be able to park for free or at a discount during a snow emergency. Visit The City Of Boston’s website for neighborhood specific information.
  • People get really touchy about parking spots they’ve shoveled out (see our explanation below on space savers). A good rule of thumb for parking in your neighborhood: if you didn’t shovel it out, you probably shouldn’t park there.
  • Avoid parking altogether and take public transportation when there’s snow everywhere! You’ll keep your spot saved and not have to worry about finding parking — just bundle up on the way to the T!
  • Be aware of how your city or town announces parking bans and snow emergency information

Space Savers

Ah, space saver season is upon us. Space savers are such a big topic of discussion in Boston that we thought it fitting to give them their own section in this blog. To start off, let’s answer the question: What is a space saver? A space saver can be anything from a garbage can, laundry basket, lawn chair, to a traffic cone left in a shoveled out parking spot to designate that this spot is taken and not to be parked in. For many Bostonians, space savers continue to be one of the most contentious parts of winter. Some people believe that if you’ve spent over an hour shoveling out a space, you should be able to continue using it. Others counter with a reminder that you don’t own a public street parking spot. So here’s what the City of Boston has to say (and yes, we had to make this an actual law): Space savers are only allowed for up to 48 hours after a snow emergency ends.

Meaning, if there’s no snow emergency, you really shouldn’t be using a space saver. And if you do, don’t be surprised if the city comes and removes it if there’s no snow emergency. That being said, some drivers will take matters into their own hands if you park in their saved spot. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see vandalism damage to parked cars during snow storms in Boston.

Tips for Shoveling

  • When it comes to shoveling out your car, be conscious of the cars around you. Don’t dig out your car just to pile it on for someone else.
  • Shovel early and often. It may seem crazy to shovel while it’s snowing, but it really will make it easier for you in the long run. Instead of waiting for the snow to finish, get out there and be proactive!
  • Before you drive your car, make sure to clear ALL the snow off your car. Don’t just worry about the windshield and windows. Any snow left on the top of your car will either fall onto the car behind you or cover your windshield while you’re driving, both of which are very unsafe driving conditions.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back! No one wants to throw their back out from shoveling, but it happens. Make sure you’re using proper form and not over exerting yourself.

And one last tip — don’t forget that summer will be back!

Have more questions about taking care of your car during a Boston winter? Visit our website at for more tips or to get in touch with an agent.

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