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Driving in the Winter in Ann Arbor

Updated: Nov 5, 2022

Compiled by Robyn

International Neighbors used to publish a Guidebook for International Families called “Living in Ann Arbor”. It was filled with useful information like this about winter driving. We are thinking about updating parts of “Living in Ann Arbor” and making it a regular part of our monthly International Neighbors Newsletter. Please let us know at if you think newcomers would find this helpful.

Things to add to your car kit: Snow scraper, blanket, umbrella, rain poncho, flashlight

Preparations for Winter Driving

By November 1 of each year, you should prepare your car to operate properly in the winter weather. Take your car to a service provider and ask them to winterize your car, check all fluid levels, your battery, and your tires. Oil should be changed regularly according to your car’s manual.

Get a combined snowbrush and ice scraper and keep it in the car during the winter. A snowbrush has plastic bristles on one end and a plastic scraper on the other end. When there’s a snowstorm, this inexpensive gadget is invaluable in sweeping snow and scraping ice off the windshield and car windows. A small shovel can also be handy in the winter, as well as a blanket, carpet swatch, flashlight, rain poncho, and a bucket of sand to shovel under the wheels if you get stuck.

Find out if your car has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, or all-wheel drive. Cars with front wheel or all-wheel drive have less difficulty in the snow.

Driving on Ice and Snow

On snowy or icy roads, it is easier to keep moving slowly than to start from a full stop. If you see an obstruction ahead, slow down early and give time for the road to clear while you are still moving.

If you are stuck in the snow, do not spin your wheels. This will create a wedge of snow in front and in back of the rear wheels. Clear the snow from around the tires with your shovel and ease the car forward. If you cannot go forward, back up a few inches and try again. Repeat this procedure as needed in a rocking motion without spinning the wheels. A piece of carpet or sand put under the tires will add traction.

Street Parking during a Snow Emergency

The City of Ann Arbor says “Snow Emergency” streets must be kept clear of parked cars at all times during the emergency. Vehicles left in place on these streets may be ticketed and/or towed. Residents will be alerted to a snow emergency via CTN Channel 16,, Facebook, Twitter, NextDoor, and local media.

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