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Winter-driving requires a tune-up of driving skills

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as beautiful as fall color is in Michigan on a sunny October afternoon, winter is coming, and it will bring along icy and snow-covered roads.

As if those won’t be enough of a challenge for your daily driving duties, you also need to be prepared for sleet-encrusted windshields. And once you scrape them, you’ll still need to deal with salt-smearing by the wiper blades you forgot to replace.

Oh, and while you’re at it, is your battery even strong enough to turn over your engine on that first sub-zero morning?

There are plenty of winter car-care issues to deal with in the next few weeks. By the way, once the temperature falls below 40 degrees, your tires won’t provide as much grip, so you really should put winter tires on your shopping list. And you’ll need them at all four corners, not just up front or on back.

But getting ready for winter driving also can be a lot of fun, especially if you attend a winter driving school, where experienced instructors will teach you the techniques that not only might keep your vehicle out of a ditch this winter, but may enable you to avoid a crash when some other driver loses control.

I’ve written before about the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, staged by the maker of Blizzak winter tires and held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where classes begin Dec. 17, weather permitting. I’ve attended the school and endorse its instructors and their teaching.

Classes in Colorado start at $280 and there are sessions for teens as well as for adult drivers.

The Road America race track in Wisconsin also offers winter driving classes, as does the Team O’Neil Rally School in New Hampshire.

The AMG division of Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari also have special winter-weather schools, aimed at the wealthy owners of their high-end vehicles.

The newest of such program may be the most fun while also being educational. The Pure McLaren Arctic Experience will be held 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, where participants will drive exotic McLaren 570S Coupe sports cars on snow-covered roads and on an ice track.

Groups of 14 participants will spend three nights in the Javri Lodge, the former home of the president of Finland and appears to be an exotic destination in its own right.

You do not have to own a McLaren to participate. You just have to be able to afford the tuition, which is around $15,200.

For details, visit www.cars.mclaren.com/experiences. If the Bridgestone school fees are more to your liking, check www.winterdrive.com.

Regardless, take care of those winter car-care maintenance issues sooner than later. A set of winter tires can be a wise investment in getting you and your loved ones safely through the winter.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.