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This article was published on November 5th, 2014
In the words of House Stark, ‘Winter is coming!’ Prolonged hours of darkness, rain, fog, ice and snow will soon be a depressingly familiar aspect of our days. Driving in such conditions can be daunting so here is a guide to facing the worst of Blighty’s weather safely.
Before you set off:
1. Ensure your battery has sufficient charge
The combined use of lights, heaters and wipers puts added strain on your battery. The RAC estimates that in the winter months they are called out to 50,000 battery related breakdowns per month.
In order to prevent this:
2. Keep it squeaky clean
Heavy rain, darkness, fog and snow all impair our visibility on the road. It is therefore essential that you frequently clean the windshield, mirrors and windows.
On icy mornings it shouldn’t feel like you are driving a tank. Don’t simply clear a hole big enough to see what is directly in front of you. Clear the whole windscreen and windows. Peripheral vision is a pre-requisite for safe driving!
If it snows clear all the snow off your roof before setting off and clean lights after journeys.
Prevent your locks freezing by squeezing some WD-40 onto them. If the locks do freeze, heat your key with a cigarette lighter. Don’t blow on the lock as the condensation is likely to freeze.
Make sure your fuel gauge is out of the red! By doing so if you get stuck you will be able to run the engine in order to stay warm.
5. Anti-Freeze and Windscreen fluid
Anti freeze cost a couple of pounds and is invaluable in winter. Without anti-freeze the water in the engine cooling system can freeze leading to an expensive cracked engine block.
Make sure that anti-freeze levels are sufficient and that you are using the right type for your car. Never mix two different types of anti-freeze and always check its shelf life as many forms become ineffective after two years. An anti-freeze that can withstand -20c is preferable.
Windshields are likely to get covered in grit so ensure you have adequate supplies of washer fluid. Use a proper additive to prevent it from freezing.
6. For Long Journeys
This might seem archaic advice but, when undertaking a long journey consider an emergency kit, constituents of which should be a torch, a shovel, wellies, a blanket, a tow rope and warm clothes.
Whilst our climate doesn’t warrant the use of snow chains it is essential that you have suitable tires for winter conditions. Tires should have a minimum of 2, preferably 3mm tread.
Don’t reduce tire pressure in the hopes of increasing grip. This doesn’t work and has the adverse effect of reducing stability.
Wake up earlier! An unwelcome suggestion I know, but a necessary one.
Give yourself time to clear all windows and mirrors and allow your car to warm up. Plan your route! If conditions are snowy stick to main roads as these will have been gritted.
Snowy/icy roads make for the most difficult and dangerous driving conditions. Always listen for local weather reports to discern whether making the journey is wise!
When driving in snowy/icy conditions remember the following:
Accidents in foggy conditions frequently involve severe car pile ups. For this reason avoid driving in fog where possible and always adhere to local traffic advice.
Should you find yourself driving in fog remember:
Rain and Floods
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident then we offer a free initial interview in order to review your specific circumstances and assess the viability of your claim. After this, the majority of claims are dealt with on a no win – no fee basis.
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