Motoring Tips for Winter Weather
Nobody likes driving when the weather is cold, wet and icy. So we have compiled a list of useful tips to help you get through the winter.
Keeping your coolant level topped up with the recommended anti-freeze mix for winter is very important. This is usually done as part of your vehicle maintenance and service routine. Whilst modern engines are far more robust than older engines, that does not mean the basics no longer apply. Anti-freeze lowers the freezing point of the coolant and also increases the boiling point for the summer months. However, it will only work effectively if the mix is correct. You can buy an anti-freeze tester to check the levels if required.
- Windscreen washer fluid
Another source of water you do not want to freeze is the window washer fluid. You can buy washer fluid with an additive which lowers the freezing point if the correct concentration is used.
- Battery charge
In the winter months, your vehicle battery will have to work much harder to keep your vehicle running. With all the heaters running, heated windscreens, lights on during the day and heated seats etc, it is no surprise that we often find ourselves with a flat battery…especially if you are often doing just short journeys. To avoid this situation, you can ensure your battery is regularly trickle-charged if its convenient. Alternatively, ensure that you take frequent long journeys, ideally without all the fans blowing and heated seats on, to give the alternator chance to put some charge back into the battery.
- Frozen locks
Sprays a small amount of WD-40 or similar high-quality lubricant into your locks can prevent them from freezing. Alternatively, if they still freeze, warm the key with a lighter prior to using it. Whatever you do, do not pour hot water into the locks. It will un-freeze them for a short time, but then your lock will continually re-freeze when the water cools down again.
- Winter tyres
Winter tyres really do make a difference when driving in snow and ice and even if road is just very wet. They are designed to specifically handle lower temperatures and expel the water from under the tyre more efficiently. Ensure your tyres have a good tread, and they are above the 3mm minimum legal limit.
- Winter driving bag
It is also recommended if you are due to travel during adverse weather to carry an Emergency Bag or winter driving bag in the boot. This bag will contain essentials, should you break down or become stranded and the weather is bad. This would ideally contain items such as warm clothing and a waterproof jacket, gloves, hat, boots or wellingtons, foldable shovel, cat litter (for additional grip if you get caught on ice), some biscuits or snack bars, water/fluid to drink and for worst case scenarios, a candle and matches and a sleeping bag or blanket to keep you warm if you have to sit it out until morning. A fully charged mobile phone is also advisable or at least a charger cable. This has saved lives in the past.
- Clear windows and lights
Before traveling, ensure all windows are cleared and your vehicle lights work and are free from snow or road spray. This will ensure that not only you can see where you are going, but others can see you coming.