Winter Driving - Hints & Tips
Whatever the winter brings us, be it torrential rain, black ice or softly falling snow, winter can really push even the best driver to their limits. Dependant on our cars, there is little we can do other than go carefully and minimize the risks. To keep your wheels in motion, we’ve comprised some pointers so that you are prepared this winter.
Accept that you cannot drive!
Maybe an obvious one, but sometimes you just have to give in the fact that if you continue driving in heavy, horizontal downpours of snow, you may cause yourself, or another, some serious damage. Quite frankly, driving on for even just a few yards to get closer to your destination could cost you your life. Conditions can leave you driving blindly. Delay your priorities until the weather conditions improve.
Besides the weather, take a moment to consider your own condition. Winter can leave us mere mortals feeling fatigued and comes with a host of illness. If you feel you cant drive safely, don’t drive at all! Stay home in the warm , sit back and have a hot drink. Take care of yourself.
Lets say for instance you are most definitely in a capable decision to drive. Have you checked to see if your vehicle is in good health for it?
Keeping your vehicle well maintained is important all year round but for a multitude of reasons more so in the winter. If you’re faced with problems on the roadside and the weather is catastrophically cold and wet, you’ll feel an extra dose of misery as opposed to sitting on a grassy knoll in summer sunshine, waiting for someone to save the day. Breakdown cover is essential, ensure you have the best recovery plan that suits you.
Check your tyres! Worn tyres won’t hug the road in wet conditions. You need a good tread. Before setting off, make sure all the exterior lights are working well. A forgotten (yet up there with the most important) checks are to ensure your windscreen wipers are in good form. Check your coolant and washer fluid levels, paying particular attention to the anti-freeze content.
We can only minimize the negatives to the best of our abilities so it is a given that despite the number of checks one conducts, the winter will have its wicked way with our vehicles, especially when it is left standing outside overnight. Engine issues are a common dark cloud over our festive spirits during Christmas. Peace of mind comes with a good breakdown package that can come to your home as well as roadside recovery.
Slippery when wet
Driving in the heavy rain is no easy feat but it can be made significantly easier for drivers who take in a couple of tips for the next time they’re stuck driving during a treacherous downpour. A key factor is speed. Slow right down. The more wet the roads are, the wider the space you need to brake safely. When rain is heavy, your visibility shoots right down the scale as rapidly as those raindrops so with both in mind, make certain you keep a considerable distance between you and the vehicle in front.
You may find the car loses grip if there is a particularly large amount of surface water. Do not brake suddenly as that is where the point of control flies out of the hands of the driver. The best thing to do it simply take your foot off the accelerator and slow down gently.
Snow and Ice
The joys of waking up the morning to seeing a beautiful snowy coating over the world outside of your window. The nightmare of realising your car is no exception to this coating…
Before you set out, make sure you remove this snow and ice in the appropriate manner, otherwise you may cause yourself more grief in the long run. Use a windscreen scraper or de-icer. Hot water from a kettle delivers rapid results but the result of freezing cold to boiling hot to freezing cold again can cause damage and cracking in the glass. De-ice the area around the car-lock and mirrors also. It is illegal to drive with poor visibility, so do all windows and mirrors, not just a fraction of your windscreen.
Use your headlights if necessary and follow the same rules applied to driving in the wet weather. Keep a safe distance from drivers and remember that it isn’t always so obvious if what you happen to be driving on is ice, especially if covered in a light snowy dusting. A good indication is the lack of sound from your tyres. If they are making less noise than usual, you might well be driving on ice. If you skid, do not brake - the wheels will lock and your control is plummet. Depress the clutch and steer into the direction of the skid. When the car straightens, steer as normal
Don’t try and rev up with power when you’re faced with an uphill climb. The better alternative is to try and get a little momentum going before you reach the hill and let that carry you up. Reduce your speed when you the reach the top and drive down as slowly as possible.
A well-executed emergency stop may well be called for in the slippery winter conditions. Apply the brake without locking the wheels. If the car starts to skid, simply ease the pressure from the pedal and then reapply. Push the clutch in just before you stop!
Long drive ahead of you? Christmas especially means longer than usual car journeys. Bear in mind the possibility of a breakdown despite your festive spirits. Prepare. Dress warmly, or take plenty of extra clothing in case the heating fails or you are left stranded with no power. Good winter shoes and even a hot thermos of soup or tea. If you happen to break down on the motorway, remember to park as far to the left as you can on the hard shoulder and turn your hazard lights on. Get all the other passengers and yourself out of the car and safely away from the road and by the left hand doors.
Drive by the rules. Be safe - Drive carefully!