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Winter Driving Guide

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Safe winter driving requires unhindered visibility, sufficient traction, and problem-free mechanical functioning. Many winter driving problems can be avoided by preventing problems with visibility, traction, and car maintenance.

Visibility

Fill your windscreen washer fluid. When the roads are wet from snow or rain, windscreens often get splashed with muddy water. This dirty water can impair the driver’s ability to see. A lack of washer fluid can be dangerous in these circumstances. For safe winter driving, check your washer fluid levels frequently and top it off as needed.

Windscreen wipers also need to be in good condition during the winter months. If the wipers are not clearing moisture effectively from the windscreen, replace the wiper blades.

In addition to being able to see properly, make sure other drivers can see your car. Brake lights, headlamps, and all exterior lights need to be functioning and fully visible. Snow should be removed from blocking any of the exterior lights before driving. Ask a friend or neighbor to help you test the lights to make sure all your turn signals and brake lights are working.

A simple ice scraper is a valuable tool in winter months. Check to make sure you have a ice scraper handy and that it is in good condition. An ice scraper that has any broken edges should be replaced. These sharp edges could scratch the windscreen.

Traction

Drivers often feel their all-weather tyres are good enough for winter. However, drivers who often drive on wet, snowy, and sometimes icy roads during the winter months should be aware that all-weather tyres are not the ideal tyres to use in those conditions. Snow tyres are specially made to perform well in low temperatures while all-season tyres tend to harden in low temperatures. This hardening of the rubber material reduces traction. Therefore, snow tyres are the safer winter tyre.

Give yourself ample space between your car and the car in front of you. Remember that an icy patch on the road might not be visible. Leaving space to prevent a problem is an easy way to keep safe. Speed limits are set according to ideal conditions. If the road is wet or contains ice or snow, drive at a slower speed.

If the car starts to skid, avoid the urge to slam on the brakes or oversteer. The best thing to do is ease off the accelerator pedal and gently brake only if needed. The car may slow down on its own enough for you to gain control again. Use the steering wheel to gently guide the car in the direction where you want it to go. Sudden jerks on the steering wheel or over-braking can cause the skid to get worse. Remain calm and try to gently guide the car as you regain control.

When the vehicle is surrounded by snow, either by being stuck in a snowbank or if you haven’t shoveled new snow clear around the vehicle, avoid the temptation to sit in the car with the motor running to warm up. This can be very dangerous since the exhaust system may not be fully clear from snow. If the exhaust is blocked, dangerous fumes can enter the car. Also, it may leave you without fuel when you need it. Many people find it helpful to keep some ice melt in the boot of the car to use near the tyres in case they get stuck.  If you get stuck and can’t get free from the snowbank, call for assistance.

Problem-free Mechanical Functioning

Getting a tune up or maintenance check at the onset of winter is a good idea. Many of the car’s components that can cause issues in winter months such as batteries, tyres, and fluids are typically checked during a routine tune up. Some garages offer a pre-winter check that includes the car parts that can cause winter woes.

A sufficient supply of fuel is necessary to ensure the car runs properly. Keep the fuel tank filled at least halfway to prevent freezing in the fuel line and becoming stranded by running out of fuel unexpectedly.

Winter driving takes extra care, but it doesn’t have to be hazardous. With some caution while driving and preventative measures to make sure the car is in good condition for driving, a driver can safely navigate the winter roads. If you have any concerns about your car’s winter readiness, ask our friendly service technicians about our 10 point winter safety check. 

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