Car News:  Oversteer

Here's an Absurd Winter Driving Myth You Shouldn't Believe

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
RELATED READING
See all GMC Yukon articles
RESEARCH BY MAKE
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs
RESEARCH BY STYLE
AWD/4WD
Commercial
Convertible
Coupe
Hatchback
Hybrid/Electric
Luxury
Sedan
SUV/Crossover
Truck
Van/Minivan
Wagon
ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Eric Brandt December 2017

As the temperatures drop and the snow flies in the Northern chunk of the U.S., there's a lot of advice that goes around regarding driving in inclement winter weather. Some of it is legitimately good advice, and some of it is old wives' tales -- some of which have more merit than others. There's one winter driving myth, however, that trumps all others in stupidity. Not only is it ineffective in giving you a better winter driving experience, but it can actually make it worse.

I first heard it a couple winters ago when I was working as a mailman. During a particularly cold morning, I overheard advice being exchanged in the post office as we prepared to brave the elements and bring the all-important mail to our customers. The advice was this: one of my fellow mail carriers advised another to turn on the headlights of the Grumman LLV mail truck and leave them on for a couple minutes before attempting to start it. The idea is that turning on your headlights gets the juices flowing in the battery of the truck and will give you a better chance at a successful start on the first attempt.

This is ludicrous advice and you should never, ever do this.

Let me explain how car batteries work. They're charged while the engine is running, from the alternator, and that's what makes them last so much longer than the AA batteries in your Game Boy Color. When the engine is running, the battery is charging -- and a decent battery will last you at least a few years before it just can't hold a charge anymore.

After you're done with your car or truck for the day, the battery sits there, not being charged by the engine. When you first go to start it in the morning, the battery's charge is at its lowest, because it just went several hours without any love from the alternator. That's why, when you have trouble starting your car, it's usually after it's been sitting without the engine running for an extended period of time.

So, now that you know how car batteries work, which you probably already knew, do I even need to explain why it's a terrible idea to turn on your headlights before trying to start your car or mail truck in the morning? Why on earth would you want to start draining your battery of juice without the alternator running? Did someone come up with this advice as a prank? Turning on your headlights does not "wake up your battery in the morning," informing it that you'd like it to start the engine soon, please. It just drains it, worsening your chances of a successful start. Clearly, the person giving this advice has never had a project car with a battery that had to be coddled with every measure taken to not drain the thing as to get as many cranks out of it as possible without having to hook up a charger or give it a jump start.

I thought this idea was so crazy that I did some research online to find out if this was common advice or just limited to this one woefully misinformed mail carrier. It turns out it's a somewhat common practice and people have been doing this for years.

Since you're reading Oversteer and since you probably know a thing or two about cars, informing you of how bad of an idea this is isn't necessarily for you -- but, rather, for the non-car people in your life. If you know anybody who does this, tell them to kick that ridiculous habit this winter if you care about them. If you don't care about them, then tell them what a great idea it is to turn on your headlights before trying to start your car on cold mornings.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Jeep Has Made Some Really Weird Concept Cars
Video » Here's Why the 2018 Jeep Wrangler Is Way Better Than the Old One
The 2005 Ferrari Superamerica Is Just Plain Cool

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
New 2018 GMC Yukon 4WD SLT
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Here's an Absurd Winter Driving Myth You Shouldn't Believe - Autotrader