Winter Driving Advice
Winter was a slow season to settle in 2015. But with reports of colder weather and possibly snow to come, we thought we’d give you our two pence on safer winter driving for a more relaxed journey heading into 2016.
But before we get started, we’re going to assume you’re already acquainted with some basic vehicle checks (valid MOT, oil and water levels etc.) If not, don’t worry here’s our guide to Car Care & Maintenance: The Basics
Image kindly Donated by local photographer Des Gould. He has a particular interest in our environment, and was a 2015 finalist for the The Atkins CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year Competition. Click the icon to see what he’s up to on Flickr
Before you set off
There are a few ‘pre-flight checks’ that we like to do before coming into Car Magic for the day.
Clear your car windows, mirrors and windscreen, ensuring they’re free of ice and condensation before you set off. An easy way of doing this is to turn the car on and let the ice melt while the engine heats up and the cab becomes toasty. You could enjoy a coffee while you wait. Don’t leave your car unattended with the engine running, as this makes your vehicle an easy target for the would be car thief. A sure way to sour that morning cup of joe.
Once you’re on the road, bear in mind that surfaces can be covered in patches of frost and black ice. Slow down. Driving fast on a slippery or wet road surface will reduce your tyre grip, increasing the risk of skidding.
Operating your vehicle with smooth control will add safety to your journey at this time of year. Early forethought, with smooth braking, steering and gear changes is a safer way to drive on the whole, so apply this thinking now and you’re already ahead in the race.
Winter Driving Tips
Keeping your windscreen clear
Keeping a can of de-icer in the car, along with an ice scraper and dry cloth to remove ice and condensation, will help speed things up in the morning. Once in a while, check your vehicle’s window and door seals, as the cold can damage these, causing a damp interior. So avoid this with a quick check.
Checking your tyres
As with any time of year, keeping an eye on your tyre condition is good advice for safer motoring. But with the conditions causing road surfaces to become more treacherous, check your tyre pressure and tread, ensuring that its not worn.
If you drive through mud or other debris, make sure this doesn’t clog the tyres and reduce their road holding ability. If you should find that this is the case, or live in an area with a higher chance of snow, consider fitting a full set of winter tyres.
Body & Engine
Salt grit can cause problems to your car’s body work. Specifically around the wheel arches, where stone chips can let salt water seep under the paint. If left, this can cause body work to corrode. Look for spots where the paint may appear to be ‘bubbling’ as an indication of rust. Washing your car regularly removes the build up of salt and other corrosive agents that are picked up off the road.
Winter can be a tough time for engines too, especially when temperatures drop to the sub zeros. A tip to help you and your car? Adding anti-freeze to the radiator and other water systems will protect against damages that can be caused by the expansion of water as it freezes.
Batteries can suffer increased power drain this time of year, especially in older vehicles. If your going away for a week of sun, on your return give your car a good 30 minute run. This will add charge to your car’s battery. Carry a set of jump leads in your vehicle. This way if your battery is flat, you at least have the option of a jump start from a friendly passer-by.
Safe Winter Motoring
So by now we hope you and your vehicle feel readied for the roads. But if not, here’s a list of checks to do before leaving and a selection of items that we’ve compiled to aid you en-route, should you need to pull over:
- Remove ice and/or condensation from your windows and windscreen
- Ensure your headlights are clean and check the bulbs
- Check your tyre pressure and tread
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Mobile and charger
- Torch and spare batteries
- Warm clothes and a blanket
- First aid kit
- Jump leads
- Some snacks and drinking water
- Reflective warning signs
- Sunglasses – the glare off snow can dazzle you
Just remember: Adapt your driving in bad weather. Even after roads have been treated driving conditions may remain difficult, especially on stretches of road where there is a greater risk of side winds or ice forming. Slow down more than usual on corners, where the risk of loosing control is at it’s greatest and be aware on stretches of road where:
- There are changes in road elevation or exposure
- The road passes under bridges
- Objects at the side of the roads create shade
- Traffic is infrequent
Lastly, check for congestion en-route and whilst you’re checking look up a weather report just to make sure the MET office haven’t issued a weather warning.