Here at Carwitter we understand winter driving can present a number of challenges to both you and your car, so we’ve put together a list of tips to ensure you are safe on the roads this winter.
The best advice for driving in winter conditions is to not drive at all, however that’s not always feasible with family, friends and love-ones to visit over the Christmas period. So before you hit the roads this winter, make sure both you and your car are prepared, by following our simple guide.
Before you set out
Cold weather can be tough on a vehicle; especially on a car’s battery. Breakdown companies attend more call-outs for batteries than any other problem– this is due to the engine requiring twice as much current to turn over in winter weather than in more favourable conditions, and low temperatures significantly decreasing the battery output.
Checking that your car battery is fully charged before you make any commitments to drive on the roads this winter will reduce the risk of you breaking down. Remember that most car batteries have a life of around 4 years, after which it is recommended that they are replaced. Check the age of your battery, and consider replacing if it’s approaching or past four years old.
If you have the option to store your car in a garage take advantage of this, if not, investing in a water resistant breathable winter car cover will help protect your car.
The condition of your cars tyres is critical at winter time; tyres should be checked for the correct pressure and that they comply with the legal guidelines for the correct depth of tread (minimum 1.6mm). Worn tyres and high-performance tyres will struggle with braking, acceleration and general handling in severe weather conditions. If you live in an area which suffers from a considerable amount of snow and ice and you have the funds available it is worth investing in a set of winter tyres, also known as snow tyres. Winter tyres are specially optimized for snow and ice, they provide you with more traction on slick surfaces, and whilst they cannot prevent you from having an accident, they will lower the risk considerably.
Here is a winter tyres price comparison to help you find the best deal.
Be sure to clear the snow and ice from both your windscreen and roof before driving off; not doing this on could result in a hefty fine and cause hazard to both you and other drivers on the road.
Remember if you need to put water on your windscreen to remove the ice use lukewarm water, NOT boiling as this could potentially crack your screen! We always recommend using de-icer and a good old fashioned ice scraper to minimise the risk of damage to your windscreen.
Its surprising how dirty your car lights can become driving along the slushy, wet icy roads, so make sure that all your lights are in good working order and free from any snow or dirt as this could result in your visibility being reduced. A quick wipe down with a clean cloth wouldn’t go amiss prior to setting out on your journey.
A simple check to ensure that both your front and back windscreen wipers are fully functional is key, and if you discover one of these, or both, are not working or are worn out, get them replaced as soon as possible.
With the lower temperatures brings frozen screen wash, which can either blow the washer fuse; or even split the pump as the screenwash freezes. Its best to use concentrate over winter and dilute it with water as little as possible.
Petrol can be especially hard to get around Christmas time, as many filling stations are closed so make sure you are prepared and don’t run the risk of breaking down!
Think smart and make sure you’ve got more than enough petrol to get where you are going to avoid breaking down.
Checking you have the right amount of antifreeze in your cars coolant system is crucial over the winter months as it helps protect your car’s engine from the cold temperatures.
Antifreeze is cheap enough to buy, and is available to purchase in all leading car stores, however a damaged engine as a result of not checking your antifreeze levels is NOT! So make sure you don’t get caught out!
If you are unsure on how to correctly use anti-freeze, follow the instructions on the bottle and check your car manual. Some antifreeze products will need to be diluted before use, whereas others come premixed, and will simply require you to top up your engine, according the car manufacturer guidelines.
Be sure to pack an emergency kit for any journeys that you may need to make, no matter how big or small they are. Some items that are essential when driving in winter weather are:
- Waterproof/warm clothing
- Ice scraper
- Jump leads
- Phone charger
- First aid kit
- Warning triangle
- Some food and water
When on the road
- Plan your journey and don’t go out if you don’t need to. A major cause of road accidents is down to people not knowing where they are going and not planning ahead
- Leave plenty of time to get to your destination and be prepared to accommodate for any potential unforeseen delays
- Wear sensible shoes for driving – pedals can become wet and slippery so it’s important that shoes with a good grip are worn
- Remember to use gentle and slow manoeuvres at all times and avoid any sudden moves
- Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front; remember stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow
- Brake gently and slowly to avoid skidding – If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brakes
- Use low gears to keep traction especially when going up hills
- When pulling away, pull away slowly and use 2nd gear as this will create less power through the wheels and avoid you from skidding
- Avoid using cruise control
- Try to avoid using routes that haven’t been gritted and stick to the main roads