Thursday 11th January 2018
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Winter Driving Tips

The first thing that’s really important to know is that the braking/stopping distance of your vehicle can more than double in wet and icy road conditions when compared to dry surfaces. 
In fact, a really good idea to make sure you stay safe in severe weather conditions is to basically stay indoors wherever possible and not travel unless you really have to.

Many drivers can be confident of knowing the roads especially around their local areas, however it can be so easy to get caught in an accident when there are sudden torrential downpours, or heavy snow.

Another tricky condition for driving is when black ice appears on the road for a short time and then suddenly disappears. Motorists can easily fail to see the black ice and when suddenly having to hit the brakes, the vehicle can freely skid with no control over stopping.

Modern car computers should notify you to be aware of these conditions, but it’s always good to keep an eye out for the plummeting temperatures that can easily lead to black ice.

We thought we would provide some general driving tips for all winter weather and then separate the tips into specific driving conditions as mentioned below:

General tips

  • Set your radio onto TA (travel announcement) so you’re kept up to date with any relevant warnings and travel weather news.
  • Check the weather forecasts before setting off on your journey and be prepared to take another route when bad weather is notified.
  • Make sure you drive slower when the roads are wet, or icy.
  • Be aware of pedestrians, cyclists, motor bikers and other drivers who could suddenly do the unexpected, in other words drive like you expect the unexpected.
  • Make sure your windscreen wipers are free from any dirt or debris that could obstruct your vision when they are switched on.
  • Ensure you keep a healthy braking distance from the vehicle in front, giving you get plenty of time to stop.
  • Keep a cloth inside the car to wipe away any condensation built up on the screens before your heaters start working as any type of driving with obscured vision is against the law.
  • Sounds a bit basic this one, but make sure you have enough fuel for your journey as you definitely don’t want to conk out when it’s freezing, or raining outside.
  • Don’t take any risks and give yourself extra time on your journey.
  • Make sure your phone is on full charge in case you need it and keep some extra warm waterproof clothes in the boot along with food, water and a battery light in case of the unfortunate possibility should if you breakdown.
  • If you do breakdown and have to leave the car make sure it’s out of the way from other road traffic.

Tips for driving in snow

  • Always check your radiator is topped up with the right concentration level of anti-freeze.
  • Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is topped up with winter screen wash which contains an anti-freeze type of solution.
  • Have a can of de-icer spray readily available to help clear your windscreen and any tough locks.
  • Clear any snow off your roof before setting off as it can easily slide down onto your windscreen when you suddenly brake.

Tips for driving in floods

  • In flood water situations be aware that a car can float in 12 inches deep of water or more, which in turn means total control of the vehicle could be lost.
  • The engine air intake can be low down on most modern cars which means if the engine suffers water intake, it can cause engine failure resulting in a costly fix. This means take it slowly through the deeper puddles.
  • The catalytic converter operates at very high temperatures (this is why they are made up of precious metals). They can break when coming into contact with freezing water, again please drive slowly through deep water to prevent another costly bill.

Tips for driving in fog

  • In heavy fog conditions use dipped headlights and rear fog lights to help alert other drivers where you are.
  • Be aware that fog can come in patches, so therefore if it seems to clear stay well behind the car in front in case another fog cloud comes along.

Avoid expensive breakdown damages

costly breakdown damage

One of the most expensive costs that your car could notch up would be damage that is flood related. Once water gets inside the engine and the car itself, then hefty bills for replacing the interior (such as seats, carpets etc.) and the mechanical parts can run into the £1000’s.

If you see any fast moving water then think twice about driving straight through as you could easily find yourself being swept away. If in doubt, use a stick to try and measure the depth of the water before entering and don’t forget to check your brakes work when leaving any deep water.

If you do get stuck don’t try to keep turning over the engine as this can cause further damage, simply call your recovery service and stay in a safe place.

10 most common parts to get damaged in the winter

Have you found this article helpful? If so, please leave your comments below as we would love to chat with you.

Comments

Knowledge is power.

Good advice also carry shovel and phone no of breakdown service at hand

Don't forget, though - you must NOT use fog lights (front or rear) if you can see more than 100 metres, so remember to switch them off when not needed.

You recommend using dipped headlights and rear fog lights in foggy conditions which is good BUT too many drivers use rear fog lights in slow moving traffic which are very bright for the driver behind them limiting what he can see. This is not showing consideration for other drivers and can potentially lead to an accident.
There is also a difference between fog and mist please use fog lights for the appropriate road conditions

"Tips for driving in snow" should be changed to read "Things to check before you set off driving in snow". One thing missing from this list is to ensure that all lights are cleared of snow - so often we see cars driving around in a snowy 'disguise', very dangerous.

Some advice on actually how to DRIVE a car (whether manual and automatic) in snow would be really helpful as there are so many people out there who really haven't got a clue... gears, tyres, speed, steering etc.

Fog list - no mention of front fog lights? Really useful for seeing the edge of the road in poor visibility and alerting others of your presence.

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