The Ultimate Guide to Driving in Winter Weather
After a September that made the summer feel like it was going to last forever, October has really signified the start of the winter weather; rain and wind have taken over so here at Rivervale Leasing we want to keep you safely on the roads during the winter months.
The winter puts more demand on your car than the summer months so it’s important to make sure your car has had a bit of attention and is up to the job – it is essential to check
Tyres – worn tyres will not grip the road and it is recommended your tyres have at least 3mm of tread left for winter conditions.
Coolant – make sure you have anti-freeze or you could end up with a frozen engine.
Screen wash – top it up and keep it full, make sure the screen wash you are buying can cope with low temperatures below freezing for those chilly mornings.
Wipers – replace them is there is any sign of damage as here in Britain they are likely to be working very hard throughout the winter!
Being stranded on a country road in the beautiful summer sunshine may not feel too bad, but being stuck on that same road in the freezing rain or snow will feel like a nightmare so carry some essentials with you in the boot just in case you need them we suggest ……
Ice scraper and de icer is essential for all those frosty mornings
Torch as the nights draw …. And maybe some spare batteries!
Keep some warm clothes and blankets just in case you get stuck for a lengthy period of time.
First aid kit …. Fingers crossed you won’t need it, but it’s good to know it’s there!
Jump start cables – the cold weather can be punishing on batteries so yours may need a little nudge to get going!
Food and drink for any long periods stuck in traffic or waiting for road side assistance.
Shovel – you may need to get digging!
Sunglasses – the low winter sun can really affect visibility so use sunglasses to beat the glare.
Mobile phone charger – your mobile will become your best friend if you get stuck or break down to call for help ……. Or to update your facebook status!
Some tips for the snow
I know it’s very pretty and we all want it on that one special day in December but snow really does cause havoc on the roads – think if you really need to make that journey, could you work from home or could a few appointments be rearranged? If you really need to go out listen to travel news so you are aware of any danger zones or roads closed ……
Never use boiling water to clear snow from your car - you may end up cracking the glass on your windscreen.
Don’t be tempted to turn on the wipers and see if they can do the hard work of screen clearing for you – if they are frozen you will just blow a fuse and have to replace this before you go anywhere!
Don’t forget to clear the roof or you may be in for a nasty surprise when you break and all the snow from the roof ends up on your windscreen! And the Highway Code states that it is illegal to drive with poor visibility.
One handy tip is to keep a couple of squares of carpet in the boot – if you get stuck in snow positioning these under the driving wheels may be all you need to get free! If needs be borrow your mats from the backseats!
Moving off in second may help reduce slip and moving up the gears as soon as you can will help keep you on the road.
Leave 10x the normal gap between you and the car in front – give yourself plenty of time to stop.
On untreated roads beware of driving on existing tyre tracks as the snow will be compacted so might be more icy than fresh snow.
If you do start to skid, don’t fight it steer into the skid, keep your hands on the wheel and don’t stamp your foot on the brakes!
Remember to make all movements very slowly, steering braking and accelerating to give your car the best chance of staying on the road.
In heavy rain
……Remember your car does not magically become waterproof in the winter so if you drive through deep standing water it will probably break down ………
Leave more space in between vehicles and beware of larger vehicles as they will create more surface spray.
Go slowly if you are driving through standing water as going too fast will result in aquaplaning where the tyres lose contact with the road and your steering becomes light. If this happens you should reduce speed until you have full control of the vehicle again.
Never drive through standing water if you are unaware of the depth and never drive through fast flowing water as you may be swept away.
Before driving through standing water make sure your pathway is clear so you can avoid stopping, when out the other side be sure to test your brakes.
If your car cuts out after driving through a flood, do not try to restart it – get it checked by a professional. If you are waiting for recovery don’t leave the bonnet up as all those electrical component may become soaked and add to your problems!
So keep safe and don’t let the winter beat you……summer is just around the corner!
The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.
14 October 2014
Written by Rivervale