Autumn is here bringing with it darker mornings and evenings, colder weather and the chance of snow and other conditions potentially affecting the roads and your journey time. From now until around March, it’s important to look after yourself and your car more than ever. Here’s our autumn/winter driving tips roundup.
Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time
It’s tempting to keep under the duvet for as long as possible on a cold morning, or remain in your favourite chair by the fire until the time when you would typically set off somewhere, but driving in these conditions requires sacrifice, planning and preparation. After all, road conditions, weather and slower traffic can quite often impact journey times considerably. Make sure you’ve got enough petrol or diesel in your car’s tank before it becomes too late, as getting stranded really isn’t fun. Remember, cold temperatures and longer traffic queues require more fuel.
Don’t leave roadworthiness to chance
Ideally when it’s dry and light enough to see, take a few moments to check your car over, feeling the tyres for a decent tread depth (which provides the grip) and ensuring they are suitably inflated. Check and top up your oil, windscreen washer bottle and anti-freeze, and get your battery changed if it’s been playing up recently. It’s imperative to make sure that all the lights work, so you can be seen on the roads. Talking of lights put your dipped beams on at all times for improved safety. If you’re not confident with such vehicle checks, you could always ask a friend, relative or neighbour to help. From November 1st right up until the end of the year, all CarShop sites are offering a free winter health check, so why not book one through our website?
Ice scrapers indoors, phones suitably charged
If you usually keep your ice scraper inside your car (along with a bottle of de-icer) what will you do if you car’s doors are frozen shut and you can’t prise them apart? The solution is to buy a lock de-icer tool or to store your scraper and de-icer indoors. In case you get delayed or break down, this time of year is when it’s more important than ever to have a mobile phone with you. Just remember not to use it while you’re driving, as this is of course illegal. Why not invest in a relatively cheap in-car phone charger such as a USB version or one which works off the power socket?
Kettles are for drinks, not windscreens
Don’t use a kettle full of boiling water to try and clear your windscreen, as this might result in you cracking it. Instead, you could put a sheet, towel, newspaper, cardboard or tarpaulin over your windscreen at night, so it’s got a better chance of being ice or snow-free in the morning. When scraping your windscreen, clear as much of it as possible, not simply a tiny little patch which is just big enough for you to see through. Clear the side and rear windows too, so your visibility is as good as it can be, otherwise police can stop you, because rule 229 of the Highway Code states that motorists “must be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows”. A clean, soft broom is often great for brushing thick snow off of a vehicle.
Staying warm isn’t uncool
Another good idea at this time of year is to keep a fleece, woolly jumper, coat or even a blanket in the boot. Okay, it may not be the trendiest of ideas, but you’ll be thankful for some warmth if you get stranded for whatever reason. And if you’re really organised, you could even take a flask of hot drink with you if you’re going on a long journey.
Drive differently for a reason
Drivers in the autumn and winter months need to change their driving style too. This is because all kinds of weather can make driving conditions dangerous. Stopping distances are longer on wet or icy surfaces, so leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front, and drive slower in general. Black ice which cannot be seen is a risk especially in the countryside, so take extra care particularly on unlit roads. Setting off in 1st gear on snowy surfaces can result in wheel spin, so either apply less acceleration or try setting off in 2nd gear if possible.
More and more motorists in the UK are seeing the safety benefits of purchasing winter tyres, which is something we are able to advise you on and supply here at CarShop. Proper winter tyres typically improve traction when fitted to any car, especially rear-wheel drive cars, which often suffer on snow, ice and other slippery or loose surfaces. Rear-wheel drive cars are more prone to dangerous oversteer when they lose their footing, so adopting a more gentle driving style in the winter will keep you safer.
We hope our autumn/winter driving tips are useful. Driving is enjoyable for some and essential for many. Here at CarShop, we want to see as many motorists as possible get through the winter months safely. If you have any suggestions and advice to send in, we’d love to hear from you via Facebook or Twitter. Take care out there this winter.
- On: 06 November 2014
- By: CarShop
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