Tag Archive | "winter check"

Motor Blogger Says – Drive For The Season

Well, we – in the UK at least – have been lucky with the weather so far this winter. Certainly it’s been a bit chilly but otherwise – like the man said who fell from a skyscraper every time he passed a window, ‘so far so good’. But, like that man’s ultimate outcome, things can swiftly change for the worse as the fickle finger of Mother Nature gets a bit of a strop on. If your used car is your pride and joy or if you are buying a new car, it’s time to take care.

At any time we could suddenly see the first snow flurry of this dark and dismal season; some northerly parts of the country have already had a first taste of this year’s winter worst feature and temperatures could drop significantly anytime now. With that in mind, now’s the time for Motor Blogger to remind you of the tips for driving on snow and ice.

Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be salted. Also bear in mind that after the frost has gone, ice can remain in areas which are shaded by trees and buildings – and it forms there first, so be careful in the evening as the temperature drops.

It may seem obvious yet every year people do forget, so ensure you have de-icer and a scraper. And don’t be one of those people – and despite all the warnings they are still out there – who only scrape a small area and drive looking through a miniscule clear patch that quickly mists over. Clear the whole screen to be able to see properly and don‘t set off until you‘re satisfied.

If the road is slippery when you start off, try it in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating gently, absolutely avoiding high revs – this will help prevent wheel spin. Wheel-spin could cause the car to slew around. As you drive, stay in higher gears to help avoid that same wheel-spin. In an automatic be gentle with your feet, and use whatever gearbox features that the car handbook says will help in slippery conditions. There may be a suitable setting.

It seems obvious, but cars go in ditches every winter because drivers haven’t taken icy roads seriously enough. If it’s cold outside treat wet looking patches with great care – they could be ice, not water. Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front – plan so that you’re not relying on your brakes to stop – on ice they may not do that for you. If it is really slippery slow down early and use the gears to do it.

If the worst happens and your car loses grip and starts to slide sideways, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels where you want to go. These are just a few pointers to get you thinking and preparing. Being mentally prepared as well as having the right equipment is vital, so think about any past winter problems and what you need to do to avoid them or overcome them if they recur this year. Take a leaf out of the Boy Scout manual – be prepared.

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Driving in Winter

Though snow is a reasonably unusual occurrence in the UK, we all know it’s going to happen sooner or later during the winter. It still doesn’t stop it from being a bit of a surprise when it does arrive! Here are some tips from car safety charity GEM about how to prepare for winter journeys, and for driving in winter weather.


• Have your car looked over by a professional and sure that your brakes are in tip top condition
• Check oil and water levels regularly
• Keep a bottle of water in the car to top up your windscreen washer in an emergency

Always keep in the car:

• High-vis clothes
• Ice scraper and de-icer
• Cash
• Torch and batteries
• Food and drink – chocolate bars, nuts, flask for a hot drink, plus bottled water
• Sunglasses in case of glare from the snow

Things to watch out for on the road

If driving in the snow, you should always evaluate the need for your journey. If it’s not essential, don’t drive.

Also known as hydroplaning, this is when water builds between the tyres of a vehicle and the surface of the road, which reduces traction – so make sure you have plenty of tread depth and your tyre pressure is correct.

Black Ice
When ice forms over the road it’s sometimes impossible to see. Stopping on ice can take up to 9 times longer than usual, so be aware of this and alter your speeds accordingly. Make sure your brakes are in good working order.

What to do if you get stuck in snow

• Try and manoeuvre your car to the side of the road and come to a stop.

• Always stay with your car as it will protect you from the elements, unless you are extremely close to buildings with people inside.

• Keep the exhaust pipe unblocked so that if you need to run the engine to keep warm, there is no danger of carbon monoxide build up.

• Try and clear snow from your roof and hood so that it can be easily seen, or put something brightly coloured on top for visibility.

For even more advice on driving in winter – such as driving overseas and in mountainous territory, download the free GEM Winter Driving eBook.

Vivienne Egan writes for GEM

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