Even the most experienced, cautious drivers can face a challenge when it comes to winter driving. What with all that snow, sleet and ice, it’d be enough to make even Lewis Hamilton quake in his boots! And it’s not surprising, breakdowns are far more common during this time of year, most breakdown companies hire in extra patrols due to the number of incidents almost double during the winter months. But fear not, help is on hand to make sure you and your car arrive in one piece this winter, from cobbling together a ‘survival kit’ to checking your bulbs are in working order, all your winter driving woes will be covered below.
It is important to make sure you’ve top up the liquids in the car. Whilst this is important year –round, it becomes even more essential during the winter. So make sure that your windscreen wash, anti-freeze and oil levels are all satisfactory and topped up throughout the winter period.
If there are multiple routes to your destination consider which is likely to be the safest to drive in poor weather conditions. First of all listen out for any travel bulletins and weather updates on your local radio station that will affect the area you are driving through. Then opt for major roads that have a higher chance of being cleared, gritted and properly prepared for the elements. If punctuality is important, always allocate yourself extra time to allow for bad weather conditions. Remember to always put safety before speed, especially when the bad weather sets in.
If you are driving in the winter it is likely you will have to drive in the dark at some point, therefore you will be using your fog lights headlights more often than usual. In order to keep them in working order and maximise their use, give them a wipe down after use to ensure they remain clear and bright.
It seems obvious, but a windscreen obscured by ice or snow will impair your vision which could lead to unsafe driving. So it goes without saying, whip that de-icer out (no, not a boiling hot kettle!) and make sure you have full vision before you start your journey. If you experience condensation during your journey (a likely occurrence in the cold weather) then use the air conditioning to quickly demist the car.
You need to operate your car with slow, gentle manoeuvres during the winter months. Stopping distances increase by as much as ten times during snow and ice, so park your Bond moves and focus on slow ‘n safe instead. As the saying goes, better to be safe than sorry.
When winter hits you will need at least 3mm of tread and no less than 2mm. You could also consider changing to winter specific tyres, these have higher silica content in the tread, which is useful as it stops it hardening at wintery low temperature, meaning better grip in cold, wet weather.
Okay, I know this sounds extreme, but bear with me. Whilst it is unlikely, imagine you’re stranded for the night, you’ll be mighty thankful for that snug blanket and packet of biscuits then! When packing your survival kit try to be as practical as possible, the following would all be useful:
This little bumper pack should see you right should you end up stranded or waiting for help somewhere in cold and miserable weather.