Safer winter driving tips from Servicesure Autocentres.
There are many challenges to driving during the cold, winter months, even down here in the milder South West vehicles can get stuck in wintery conditions, forcing the some to spend the night trapped on the road. With this in mind here are some winter driving tips from the Servicesure Autocentres on how to prepare yourself if you have to make a journey and more importantly what you can do if you’re caught out by the weather.
Before You Leave Winter Driving Tips
Most cars are fitted with “All Season” tyres so ensure they are inflated correctly and it’s advisable to have at least of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions. It may be worth considering buying winter tyres, which are designed to grip the road better in icy, wet and snowy conditions.
During the colder months, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or use a trickle-charger to maintain the battery. It is always best to get your battery properly tested to check its condition. Your local Service Autocentre can carry this out for you to give you peace of mind.
While it can be said that modern engines are more robust than older ones you still need to check the fluids on a regular basis. The most important thing to check is the strength of the coolant/anti-freeze to ensure that the engine is protected during the winter months. Another simple tip is to depress the clutch when starting your car as this will reduce drag on the engine when starting, and therefore help preserve the battery.
Make sure you use a quality screen wash additive at the right ratio to water to prevent it freezing during this colder period. While it maybe tempting just to top it up water like you might do during the summer months, remember that it could take a long time for engine produce enough heat to defrost frozen screen wash.
Keep your tank topped up that way if you are caught out, you’ll have enough fuel to run the engine to keep warm. However, it’s essential to ensure nothing blocks the exhaust as noxious fumes could build up in the vehicle. It is also worth keep it the tank topped up in case you have to be diverted due to road closures, meaning you might have a longer journey than originally planned.
It is essential to clear all ice from the windscreen and snow off the roof of the car before driving off, not just for your own safety but for other road users too. Now we’ve all done it in the past but you shouldn’t use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water could cause the glass to crack, and the water may freeze again, either on the screen or the ground which then becomes a slip hazard.
Many of us are used having cars with remote central locking, however that won’t help you if your battery goes flat. Now is a good time to find your door locks and give them a squirt of WD-40 will prevent them freezing up. If they do, try carefully heating the tip of your key with a lighter to gently melt the ice.
Always pack the following: warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots, a blanket to keep you warm if you get stuck. Take some food, chocolate, biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can. Always carry a fully charged mobile, and some old bits of carpet, or cat litter, to put under the tyres when stuck and a shovel to clear snow.
Driving In Ice and Snow Winter Driving Tips
Here is some motoring advice from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) for driving in winter.
When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible.
Start gently in second gear, avoiding high revs. Stay in a higher gear for better control.
Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.
Stopping distances – a combination of the time it takes you to react, brake and then stop – increase considerably in snow and ice, so you need to adjust the distance at which you follow other vehicles accordingly.
Drive so that you do not rely on your brakes to be able to stop – on an icy surface they simply may not do that for you!
If your vehicle has ABS in very slippery conditions it will not give you the same control it would in others. Do not rely on it.
Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using shortcuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes.
On motorways, stay in the clearest lane where possible, away from slush and ice. Keep within the clear tyre tracks if you can.
On a downhill slope, get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up – it is much easier to keep it low than to try to slow down once things get slippery.
In falling snow, use dipped headlights or foglights to make yourself visible to others (especially pedestrians) – but as conditions improve, make sure your foglights are only on if necessary as they can dazzle other drivers
If you are following another vehicle at night, using their lights to see ahead can cause you to drive dangerously close – keep well back from other traffic.
Stay safe on the roads following these winter driving tips and remember it is always best to get your car checked out by your local garage, like the Sevicesure Autocentres, rather than break down and be stuck at the roadside in freezing conditions.