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Winter Driving tips

Now that he clocks have gone back and winter in on its way, here are some tips to get you through the darker nights.

How to prepare your vehicle for winter:

  • Windscreen wipers should be checked regularly and with auto wipers put them in the ‘off’ position, as they can get frozen to the windscreen and can cause damage if they try to activate when you first switch on the ignition.
  • Steamy windows - Get some soapy water and kitchen roll or a clean microfibre cloth and clean the insides of all the windows. Getting them squeaky clean will dramatically reduce the glare from the low autumn sun on morning and evening drives and it will make the windows much less likely to mist up in damp weather.
  • Headlights should be checked and cleaned
  • Keep number plates clean (you can be fined if they are dirty and illegible)
  • If you have snow on your car, clear it off the bonnet and roof as this can fall down and obscure both your vision and those behind you. (again you can be fined for this)
  • Check tyre tread depths and tyre pressures on a regular basis and ideally when the tyres are cold;
  • The legal limit is 1.6mm but its worth changing them soon in winter so you have more grip between you and the road.
  • Leaves never used to hurt a car but they can now! Lift the bonnet, look in the engine bay around the area of the bonnet hinges. You’ll see a chamber on each side that collects water as it drains from the windscreen. These chambers have drain holes in the bottom to keep them dry, but leaves can block the drains. If water stays in the chambers it can leak into the car, often soaking sensitive electronic bits, leading to very expensive repairs. Get any leaves or other debris out of the chambers and if water is present, root around until you find the drain holes and unblock them.

Top tips for winter driving:

  • Plan ahead: The chances are your vehicle will be iced up and you will probably need to clear the windscreen before driving, getting up 10 minutes earlier gives you time to prepare your vehicle before you set off.
  • While you are waiting check out the local news for traffic updates and weather warnings.
  • Plan alternative routes if adverse weather blocks your route.
  • Plan routes which favour main roads as they are more likely to be gritted and cleared of snow and ice first.
  • Remember stopping distances are much longer in the wet, ice and snow and can be upto 10 times longer so leave plenty of room from the car in front.
  • Gentle manoeuvres are key to safe driving.  Approch junctions slower and excellorate in 2nd gear to ruduce traction.
  • With lower light levels make sure you have your side lights on so you are more visible. Even if you have auto lights, these sometimes don't come on early enough.

Kit for your car:

  • Ice scraper and de-icer,
  • Mobile phone with fully charged battery and an in-car charger,
  • Torch
  • First-aid kit
  • Tow rope
  • Blankets
  • Warm cloths, coat and boots
  • Jump leads
  • Snow shovel
  • Warning triangle
  • An old sack or rug (to put under the wheels if you do get stuck)
  • Always have 1/2 a tank of fuel. Just in case you get stuck and have to stay with your car.
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Posted on 2nd November 2017 at 11:18 AM

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