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Winter Driving – Be Prepared

As the shortest day of the year looms and the temperatures currently plummet, it is vital to appreciate that the conditions for driving are very different to the summer months. Even when your car’s interior eventually becomes warm and cosy, the exterior conditions can be distinctly different.

Some Overall Pointers for Winter Driving

  • Prepare for the worst – make sure you have breakdown cover and always have a blanket, warm coat, gloves and hat in the car. In addition, always have an ice scraper, de-icer, torch, spare batteries, phone charger, first aid kit and warning triangle.
  • It is a legal requirement in much of Europe to have a luminous jacket/waistcoat in the car.
  • Consider taking sunglasses with you for low winter sun conditions.

Please be mindful that driving a four-wheel drive car does not make you immune from winter weather conditions.

Ensure Your Car is Winter Ready

  • Has your car been serviced recently? If not, book it in and ensure all fluids, brakes and tyres are checked and are up to the manufacturer’s standard.
  • Whether your car is due a service or not, always ensure your tyres have the legal minimum of 3mm, ideally a lot more for the snow.
  • Check that all lights work and clean all external lighting units regularly.
  • Make sure your wipers are working well – If in doubt, change them and always ensure the washer fluid is kept topped up with an appropriate water/cleaner mix.
  • Ensure your coolant/anti-freeze is kept to the appropriate level and if you are unsure how old it is, have it changed.

An overall top tip, allow extra time and be patient with other road users.

Driving in Snow/Ice

If in doubt and especially in snow, only drive if absolutely necessary.

Before you set off

Clear all snow from the roof and windscreen. Never use hot water to clear windscreens as it can crack the glass and then it will simply freeze when it cools down.

Give yourself plenty of time to de-ice your car to ensure you have good visibility all around.

Make sure your boot has warm clothes, a hat, gloves, sturdy boots and some food supplies! A spade and pieces of old carpet to stick under your tyres for some traction can also be handy. Don’t forget to take a phone charger with you.

Finally, plan your route around major roads that are more likely to have been cleared or treated for ice.

Driving in snow

Headlights on (dipped) and fog lights on if snow is falling.

Always take it slow in bad conditions; it takes roughly ten times longer to stop in snow than normal. If you can, pull away in second gear and accelerate gently with low revs aiming to get to a higher gear as fast as possible.

When driving uphill, leave plenty of room to maintain a constant speed without needing to stop. Again, leave plenty of room for downhill driving and use a low gear, so the engine helps slow the car. When approaching a corner, brake before turning and if your car does lose its grip, ensure your tyres are pointed in the direction you hope to go in!

Be mindful that if the road still needs to be cleared of snow, other cars’ tracks may just be compressed snow and, therefore, even icier than fresh snow.

We hope these tips and reminders help you to stay vigilant throughout the winter season.

Article tags: Customer Winter Driving
This article was written by:
Stacey O'Connor

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