Winter Driving Advice
Driving in winter can be dangerous so it is important that you prepare yourself and your vehicle for the challenges that lie ahead.
Before you head out in your vehicle during winter, you should always check the weather forecast and traffic updates. If you do not feel confident driving or difficult conditions are predicted, Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre would recommend that you do not make the journey.
Fit Winter Tyres
Fit winter tyres to your vehicle when temperatures reach a consistent average of 7°c or above. Winter tyres are designed to retain stability in cold weather and they have an increased number of grooves and sipes to provide traction and grip on snow and ice.
You should carry out checks to the following vehicle components regularly, to ensure that they will keep you safe on the road:
Ensure that your tyre tread is above 3mm, as below this point your gripping capabilities and wet weather performance will be hugely affected. Ensure that your tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressures to improve your handling and check that your tyres do not display any signs of tyre damage.
Low engine oil will not sufficiently lubricate your engine, which will be working hard in winter, so it is important that you check your oil level using the dipstick. If it is lower than the minimum requirement, book an oil and filter change as soon as possible to avoid potentially expensive engine damage.
In low temperatures, your cooling system can be prone to freezing if your anti-freeze levels are too low. Check that your coolant sits comfortably between the minimum and maximum lines on its container and contact a specialist if you are concerned about your anti-freeze concentration.
A large amount of breakdowns in winter are due to battery failure. Car batteries usually need to be replaced every 3-4 years, so as soon as yours reaches 3 years of age you should book a free battery health check. This will give you a good understanding of its condition, and you can replace it before it has the chance to fail! You should also look out for signs that it may be starting to struggle.
During winter you will rely on your windscreen wipers to help protect your visibility. To make sure that they are up to the task, you should inspect them for signs of damage and replace them if you do notice fraying, cuts or tears. You should also have your wipers replaced if they do not clear your screen effectively on each pass.
As with your engine coolant, your screen wash is in danger of freezing if you usually top it up with water. Fill your screen wash container with a solution recommended by your vehicle handbook.
Things to Carry
Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre would recommend carrying the following items when driving in winter:
|An in-car mobile phone charger|
|Spare warm clothes|
|Wellies or snow boots|
|An ice scraper|
|Food and drink|
Prepare your Vehicle
Before setting off, you will need to make sure that your visibility will not be impaired on the road! Use an ice scraper to remove snow and ice from your windscreen, mirrors and windows. Clear the car roof of any snow, as this could fall when you drive and obstruct your vision.
You should also clear your windscreen of any condensation before setting off. You can use your heating or air conditioning to ‘dry’ the air and clear the glass. Simply move the air flow control to target the windscreen and use cold air, gradually increasing the temperature. If your windscreen takes a long time to clear, you should think about having your air conditioning system recharged.
Driving in Snow
Driving in snow can be incredibly daunting and we would not advise doing so unless absolutely necessary. When snow is falling, your visibility and that of other motorists may be impaired, so ensure that you switch your headlights on to help you see and be seen. Snow can also be dazzling, so wear sunglasses if you are struggling to see.
In icy conditions your braking distances increase, so to stay safe you should maintain a large gap from the vehicle in front. We would recommend that you leave ten times as large a gap when there is snow and ice on the road.
As soon as temperatures drop below freezing, or the snowflake warning illuminates on your dashboard, you should be aware of ice – even if you can’t see it.
Drive gently and slowly to retain control of your vehicle as sudden movements, harsh acceleration and braking can cause the vehicle to skid of course. If you do find yourself skidding take your foot off the accelerator and avoid braking, this will allow your tyres to regain traction and your vehicle will slow itself down. Steer in to the skid, although it may be tempting to steer away, until you regain traction and then lightly steer in the direction of travel.
Be aware of all other traffic around you, as you may need to react if another motorist loses control of their vehicle.
For further advice and guidance for driving in winter conditions, contact your local Dexel Tyre & Auto Centre branch.