First, cleaning the snow off your Pumpkin Car...or not. The "dreaded" shovel is the nightmare of any car's paint job. Avoid it. Remove the snow from the hood, roof and trunk lid with your hands, maybe using an old towel. The key is to not scratch the paint. This could cost you a visit to the body shop.
Second, the first time you open the door, be very gentle. Most likely the seals are frozen and you want to open it very slowly. If the door is stuck, nothing is better than some warm water poured all the way around the edges of the door before opening it.
Third, before you turn on the ignition, please make sure all wipers (front and back) are OFF. Frozen wipers will blow the wipers motors mechanism instantly. I also always recommend to switch off all electrical BEFORE starting the car. Radio off, heat - A/C fan off, lights off. This will save energy, allowing your battery to provide enough power to start your car...which is the goal. Keep in mind that cold temperatures impact tremendously your car battery's strength. A good battery becomes just an average one in the cold weather and an already weak battery will let you down during the tough winter days.
Fourth, when the engine starts, let it warm up for few minutes. Obviously you can turn on your heat and anything else you need at that point. Please do not start driving with reduced visibility. Make SURE the snow/ice does not create dangerous blind spots. A few more minutes preparing your vehicle could save your life.
Fifth, turn ON YOUR LIGHTS (low beams are fine). Remember you may not need them to see, but other cars will see you better.
Sixth, even if the roads are kind of cleared, the surface could still be snowy or icy or both. That means you have just put your vehicle on an ice rink. There is minimal grip and you have to drive accordingly. Accelerate in a soft manner, don't build any type speed before having a good understanding of the grip of the road. Also, be very conservative because the road could become slipperier in a colder area, in the shadow of a building, or on a bridge. Always keep a greater distance between you and other vehicles in these conditions. Don't get distracted, stay focused on your driving. It's your best insurance.
Seventh, if you have the chance to drive a 4x4 or an all wheel drive (AWD), please keep in mind that the road is as slippery for you as it is for the regular transmission vehicles. The 4 wheel drive will help you to get better traction leaving your snowy drive way or to gain some grip at the traffic light when it turns green, but please keep in mind that a 4 wheel drive DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR BREAKING. We have seen so many times people building confidence and speed because of the good traction of their 4 wheel drive vehicle and yet being completely hopeless when it's time to slow down or stop their car or SUV. The AWD/ 4 wheel drive are great vehicles but they are not a free pass to safety when the road are dangerous. Be smart about it.
I hope this helps. AAA has some nice tips too. We'll see you soon at Pumpkin Cars. Warmly yours, Franck