Driving Safely in Winter

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 09:47:14 Europe/London

Conditions on the roads during winter can make even the simplest journeys both time-consuming and potentially dangerous. There is no denying that at this time of year it’s absolutely essential you ensure your vehicle is safe and ready to face potential hazards while out and about.

Unfortunately accidents do happen, as ice and snow, on top of gale force winds and rain, make getting from A to B a struggle for even the most confident motorist. At Snooper, we understand how the winter weather can pose a potential threat to drivers, making life more difficult for everyone, but in particular those who rely on their car to get to and from work.

Fitting your car with a gadget like a DVR recorder is just one way motorists can prepare themselves for adverse conditions on the roads. Although such a device does not prevent an incident from taking place, you will be well equipped to act if something does happen. It enables you to prove exactly what happened - and if there were any third parties involved - to your insurance company after an accident.

Top tips for staying safe

Although ensuring your car is in tip top shape is vital no matter what the weather is like, it is even more important in winter. Things you might get away with during the warmer months - such as tyres a little closer to the wear indicator - become a serious risk at this time of year, so make sure you carry out some essential maintenance.

Ahead of any journey you should also make sure your windscreen wipers are working, as well as all exterior lights. On top of this, take a look at oil  and washer fluid levels to ensure you won’t be caught short if you are going to be on the road for a good few hours. What’s more, and although it might seem obvious, don’t scrimp on fuel - ensure your tank is full enough as soon as you can, especially if you’re going to be heading into rural terrain. Check the weather before you set off too, as this will give you a rough idea of the type of conditions you can expect while out and about. Halfords is currently offering free winter tyre checks to drivers who drop into their local branch, something we would recommend if you haven’t had them looked at in a while.

Battery issues

According to the RAC, car batteries are the source of many problems for drivers in winter. The breakdown company said that during 2012, maintenance staff were called out to more than 50,000 battery-related call outs. For this reason, motorists are urged to check whether or not their battery is working before setting off on a journey, particularly if they haven’t used their car for some time.

What’s more, avoid running electrical systems for a long period of time, so turn the heater fan down and turn the heated rear window off when the windows have been cleared - and turn off non-essential loads such as lights and wipers before starting the engine. If your car will not start immediately, try five-second bursts in between attempts to allow the battery to recover. At this time of year, it is definitely worth investing in a jumpstarter - such as the Snooper PB80 - if you’re heading out in the car. If anything, this product will give you peace of mind if anything does happen while you’re out and about.

Antifreeze

Have you ever heard that painful squealing noise when your engine starts? This could be a sign you car’s water pump is frozen - and this could mean the cylinder block is having the same problem. When this happens, you should stop the engine immediately to allow this part of the car to thaw out - a process that could take several days.

While antifreeze is fairly cheap to buy, you may end up facing hundreds of pounds for repairs if you fail to purchase the right type. Although most modern vehicles use long-life antifreeze, you should check the handbook - or ask an expert for advice - before doing anything yourself.

In winter, cars require a 50-50 combination of antifreeze and water in the cooling system, which will provide maximum protection down to -34 degrees centigrade. Without it, your car is at serious risk of sustaining engine damage.

Visibility

It is absolutely essential to keep the windscreen and other windows clear at any time, but in winter, there is more of a risk that the elements could stop this from happening. Ensure you clean snow from the roof, as well as from the windows, as it is very likely that this could fall on to the windscreen while you are on the road, creating a hazard for both you and other road users.

On top of this, the dazzle from the low sun can create issues for motorists, but there are ways that you can make life that little bit easier. Improve your vision by ensuring the windscreen is clean - both inside and outside, while air conditioning will help to reduce condensation on windows.

Tyre troubles

It’s important to check the condition of your tyres during winter to make sure there is enough tread for hitting the road in slippery conditions. Another thing to look out for is tyre damage, such as splits or bulges.

The AA recommends at least 3mm of tread for driving in winter, while 2mm is the absolute minimum that drivers should get on the road with. Many drivers might think that reducing the pressure of your tyres will provide more grip, but this simply isn’t the case. One of the newest devices to come on to the market today are tyre pressure monitoring systems. Systems such as Snooper Tyre Pilot, monitor your vehicles pressure and temperatures in real time, alerting you to any changes before a problem happens.

Driving checklist

If you’re likely to be heading out on a long journey at this time of year, it’s a good idea to gather some items to be kept in your car just in case you run into trouble. These include:

  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Shovel
  • Warm clothes
  • A blanket
  • Torch
  • Ice scraper
  • De-icer
  • Phone charger or back-up portable power bank

At Snooper, we stock a variety of DVR, jumpstarter products that could come in handy if you are involved in an incident while out and about. Why not take a look at our product range today?