This article contains all you need to be well prepared for the roads this Winter. You will find details on what checks you need to do, what essentials you should have in your boot and how to drive safely on snow and ice.
Preparing your car for the Winter months
- Make sure your tyres are up to it, the more thread the better
- Correct pressure in your tyres
- Snow Socks can make life a lot easier
Firstly, ensure that your tyres are in roadworthy condition. While the minimum legal thread depth is 1.6mm we recommend not letting it get this low. Your tyres should have the correct pressure to give you the best chance of remaining safe while driving, this can be found in the owner's handbook. Winter tyres are incredibly useful if there is sustained snowfall but are also an expensive investment considering the sporadic weather. A more affordable way of increasing your grip on snowy roads is by using snow socks, these can be a life-saver during heavy downfall, especially for unsure drivers.
- Wiper motor and blades in full working order
- Wiper blades not perished or damaged
Your windscreen wipers are crucial to your safety during the Winter. Visibility is your number one priority, you don't want snow resting on your windscreen while driving! Make sure that your wiper blades aren't perished, it is a relatively cheap fix that will see you right through the harsh weather.
- Lights on at all times
- All bulbs working as normal
As you will be driving with your lights on at all times you will need them to be in full working order. Bulbs can be replaced by yourself within minutes and will make a remarkable difference both during the day and at night. It also helps your car be noticed by other motorists during the bleak conditions.
- Anti-freeze windscreen wash
- Check oil, battery, brake and power steering fluid and coolant
Your last bit of maintenance before the possibility of snow and ice increases is to top up your levels! Anti-freeze windscreen wash is a godsend, it will reduce the chance of ice forming on your windscreen as you drive and will also keep your view clear. You should also check the other areas such as oil, battery, brake and power steering fluid and coolant.
Winter Essentials to Have in your Boot
- Have an Ice Scraper close to hand
- De-Icer and Gloves will make the job easier
There are some items to purchase that are going to make the Winter far easier for yourself and your occupants. The first thing that happens in the morning will be to scrape the snow and ice from your windscreen, windows and mirrors. It helps if you have gloves to hold the Ice Scraper, De-Icer will make the job far easier also.
- Snow Shovel can come in handy to remove packed snow
- Old carpet under drive wheels will help increase traction if you become stuck
If you do get in a spot of bother then you need to get out and get digging sometimes! A snow shovel is ideal for this, old carpet is also particularly handy to place under the drive wheels to increase traction.
- Use a Hi-Vis Vest to make yourself more visible to other motorists
- Place a warning triangle some distance behind your car if you are stuck/broken down
A Hi-Vis Vest and a Warning Triangle are essential if you are stepping out of the car for an extended time, it will give other motorists longer to react if you are stranded in the middle of a road. Be careful when outside as other vehicles will take longer to stop and have reduced visibility, injuries also increase from people losing their footing and falling so tread carefully.
- A torch is a vital piece of your Winter Kit, spare batteries are also useful
A torch with spare batteries should be part of your Winter Kit as there is a lack of sunlight as we are all well aware.
Warm Jacket & Blanket
- If you need to keep warm while waiting for assistance then an old heavy, warm jacket is a must
If you unfortunately do breakdown or become stuck and are waiting for help then you will need a jacket. Pack an old warm heavy jacket in your boot and leave it there, you may be glad of it some day, and while you're at it a blanket as well, in case you have any back seat passengers who may also need to be kept warm and cosy!
How to Drive in Snow and Ice
- Only drive if you must
- Stick to the main roads where possible
First off, only undertake your journey if it is necessary. If possible, stick to major roads which are going to be in better condition and will have been salted most likely.
Give Yourself Time
- Leave early and take your time
- Remember to leave more distance than usual between yourself and other vehicles
Allow yourself more time and drive slower than usual. Increase the gap between you and the car ahead for obvious reasons.
Keep Your Cool
- Avoid doing anything rapidly. Steering movements, acceleration and braking should be done smoothly
Drive smoothly, avoid harsh acceleration or braking, this will make the whole thing far easier for you. Brake on the straights, you should not have to brake during a corner. Adjusting the steering should also be done in a considered and delicate manner, wildly turning the steering wheel will cause the wheels to lose traction.
If you Skid
- Keep cool, reduce acceleration and gently brake. Steer in your intended direction
If you do lose traction and find yourself skidding then try not to worry, we know this is tough but it is the best approach. Reduce acceleration and gently brake, avoid slamming on the brake pedal which is the natural reaction. Steer in the direction of the skid, correcting the car gradually.
If you find that you need any of the items mentioned above then you can find them in our Winter Driving section. Safe Driving!