Winter driving conditions are very different from driving at other times of the year. With longer periods of darkness, the temperature can often dip below zero causing a list of potential problems. ‘Be Prepared’ has to be your driving motto to keep you moving safely. Getting stranded is no fun, so with a few preventative measures and carrying the right equipment, this can be avoided. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, as we have found out over recent winters, with prolonged periods of heavy snow, ice and floods.
Firstly being able to see is paramount so check for worn wiper blades, usually squeaking blades are the first sign that they need replacing. Night driving in wet conditions needs a clear windscreen so keep your windscreen washer bottle full with proper winter windscreen washer fluid with an added antifreeze which can also break down dirt, grease and debris. Check all your lights are working, you might be able to buy brighter bulbs for headlamps. Also inspect brake lights, fog lights and indicators.
The strength of the mixture of antifreeze in your radiator is paramount in winter. If in doubt, this can be checked by a garage, it should be a 50/50 mixture. Anything less and you could be heading for the coolant freezing which spells disaster for a car engine and the owners pocket. If in doubt, the price of renewing your coolant is a sound investment compared to a new engine.
Good tyres with plenty of treads, properly inflated to the correct pressure will improve roadholding when conditions become challenging. If you are caught in snow and ice the best way to take off from a standing start is in second gear. Also changing up the gears earlier before higher revs will keep wheel spinning to a minimum. Remember stopping distances can increase by more than 10 times compared to dry conditions so drive slowly.
Having a winter pack in the boot could be a lifesaver in winter driving conditions if the unthinkable happens and you breakdown or become stranded. The Sealey BDKIT01 Breakdown Kit offers a handy pack of essentials including jump leads for starting a flat battery, tow rope, warning triangle and red flag. Warm and waterproof clothing, a shovel for moving compacted snow, a flask with a warm drink and some food are also advised if you have an unavoidable long distance to cover.
If you feel confident enough to change a wheel should the situation arise. Keep the car owners manual in the glove compartment for instructions, with a headtorch. Is the car jack up to the job? A spare or replacement jack could help.
Hopefully, your winter driving will pass without mishap but a few basic preventative measures could end up saving you time and money. ‘Be Prepared’