StreetSafe Blog

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Winter Driving – sensible tips and advice

Posted by StreetSafe on December 17, 2009

The below is the advice given by the AA for driving in the winter conditions. They are simple and sensible advice and tips, still worth a read as we always do forget something!
The legal minimum of 1.6mm of tread is less than twice the thickness of a CD but during the winter a minimum of 3mm (around 3 CDs) is essential because the deeper tread will be more effective at clearing water.

Modern batteries have many advantages, but if allowed to discharge, they will take a long time to recharge fully – they suffer at this time of year particularly in cars that do short journeys on cold mornings. You’ll either need to make a regular long journey with minimal use of the car’s electrical items or arrange to trickle–charge the battery.

Modern engines don’t need tucking–up with a blanket on cold nights but it can help if it’s an old car. Make sure you hang something from the steering wheel to remind you, though – a call to the fire brigade isn’t the ideal start to the day!

Depress the clutch when starting a cold engine – this disconnects the engine from the gearbox so there’s less drag.

Keep it topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration – don’t use washing up liquid though as it will foam horribly and doesn’t have the same low freezing point. Many garages sell sachets or small bottles of screenwash for pennies.

Wash the car frequently to get rid of the salt and dirt that builds up over the winter. Check for stone chips too as rust forms very quickly in the cold, damp weather.

Replace any missing wheel trims promptly to minimise corrosion to the wheel bolts, which can seize, making removal of the wheel even more difficult.

I usually keep my car fairly full in the cold months, as you never know when you might get caught up in an accident or foul weather. At least you’ll be able to run the engine and keep warm but you must make sure the exhaust’s clear of snow otherwise fumes can get into the car.

To keep the windscreen from misting up, soak a cloth in pure washing up liquid then let it dry. Now wipe this cloth on the inside of the windows and it will stop them misting up – go on, try it in the bathroom, it works!

If your windows have misted up, use the air–con as well as the heater – it’s not just for summer and helps to dry the air.

Don’t use water to defrost the windows – hot water can crack the screen and will just re–freeze as it cools, either on the screen or on the ground where you’re standing, which could have painful consequences! Thinking about frosty mornings, a squirt of WD40 in the locks will stop them freezing.

Before you go
We see many AA members who view their car as their coat and therefore, don’t think to carry enough outer clothing. Take a warm coat, gloves and hat in case the weather or the car catches you out. If you do get stuck, you’ll be very pleased if you packed chocolate, water and a hot drink too.

Always carry a fully–charged mobile and take some old bits of carpet and a shovel to clear snow, in case you get stuck.

On the road
On colder days be particularly careful on tree–lined roads – the trees prevent the sun’s warmth from reaching the road, which may still be icy when all around has thawed.

In fog, I usually drive with the window down and the radio off – often you can hear problems like cars ahead going over bumps at low speed before you see them.

On snow and ice just do everything very slowly because it can go wrong very quickly.

Safe and happy motoring!


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