Here at Winter Tyre Reviews, we are always looking to offer you the best tips when it comes to cold weather driving.
1. Where do you keep your de-icer? In the boot like everyone else! Don’t, keep a tin in the house and one in the boot. It’s better than having to boil the kettle to unfreeze the lock and you won’t crack your windscreen.
2. Have you checked your tyres? Make sure you have enough tread, don’t put off changing them because you think 2mm will do for now, you need more grip in winter conditions. Better still, if you drive a lot of miles to get to work, invest in winter tyres.
3. Get your tyre pressures checked, over or under inflated tyres will reduce grip and the vehicle will slide.
4. Is your vehicle front wheel or rear wheel drive? It makes a big difference. Its great driving the two seat sports vehicle or the rear wheel drive, but it will move a bit on snow or ice. Get a 25kg bag of sand (or even road salt, handy if you get stuck) and put it in the boot, it helps with rear wheel grip.
5. Keep the fuel tank topped up, it increases weight at the back, helps keep you warm if you get stuck.
6. Keep mobile phones charged and any other electronic gadgets you may need.
7. Warm clothes? Even short runs can end up with you getting stuck. Most people have an old sleeping bag in the loft or garage, put it in the boot. Have an extra coat or a fleece jacket, blanket, flask and energy bars
8. During cold winter weather, top up the washer bottle with un-diluted washer fluid. Don’t dilute it as it becomes less effective and will freeze in the bottle.
9. Check your wiper blades, don’t use them with ice on the screen; make sure its clear first. Replace worn wiper blades as you will need them to maintain visibility.
10. Make sure your anti-freeze is topped up and to the correct mixture, use your service book or talk to the dealer. When water freezes it expands and could damage the engine block, the water pipes and the radiator.
11. Check your lights and make sure you have spare bulbs with you, keep visible on dark nights and bad weather.
12. If your vehicle is parked up over the weekend, give it a regular overnight trickle charge in the garage.
13. Keep a dry pair of footwear in the vehicle, take off those big boots that are covered in snow as they will make your feet slip off the pedals.
14. Pop to your local motorists shop or DIY store, the smaller independents are usually best, and buy a 25kg bag of salt for your driveway. No point having a snow and ice free vehicle if you can’t get out of the driveway.
15. Clear all the glass with a scraper, don’t use hot water as this will crack the glass.
16. If the vehicle is covered in snow, start at the roof and move it all off. If you don’t, it will just fall over the glass as the vehicle gets warm inside.
17. Use your air conditioning, if appropriate, to keep the screens from condensation, frozen water inside is hard to remove. But remember, keep the temperature to 21-22C, it doesn’t need to be too hot inside when you have thick clothes on as this can make you drowsy.
18. When starting the engine, if it doesn’t fire up in the first 5 seconds or so, leave it for a minute before trying again to allow the battery to recover.
19. After you’ve started the engine, leave it for a minute to let the oil flow round, excessive revs can damage the engine. This will put power back into the battery.
20. Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
21. Driving up hill? Avoid having to stop part way up by waiting until it is clear of other vehicles or by leaving plenty of room from the vehicle in front. Keep a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change down on the hill.
22. Driving downhill? Reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes. Leave as much room as possible between you and the vehicle in front.
23. If you have to use brakes then apply them gently. Release the brakes and de-clutch if the vehicle skids.
24. Automatic transmission – under normal driving conditions (motorways, etc.) it’s best to select ‘Drive’ and let the gearbox do the work throughout the full gear range. In slippery, snowy conditions it’s best to select ‘2’, which limits the gear changes and also makes you less reliant on the brakes. Some autos have a ‘winter’ mode which locks out first gear to reduce the risk of wheel spin. Check the handbook.
25. If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip. Once on the move again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.
26. Make sure that all electrical items, lights, air-con, heated screens, mobile chargers etc. are switched off before you turn off the engine, leave the engine running for a minute or two to replenish the battery. Use the same thought before starting, do not switch on the lights etc. before starting the engine, it will drain the battery.
27. And most importantly, give yourself an extra ten minutes in the morning to prepare your vehicle before you set off. It’s better than trying to see through a letter box sized slit in the ice on the screen.