Winter Driving: Top 6 Hacks To Beat The Season
The sun may still be out, but with most of the UK seeing temperatures in the minus figures, it’s officially Winter!
Winter driving can be particularly hazardous, but it’s not just the cold temperatures that can catch you out. We’ve compiled the top 6 hacks that will make your winter driving experience that much more pleasurable.
#1 – Wrap Up
Nothing can distract you quite so much as being too cold. Layers are your friend when the temperature drops. Keeping your hands toasty is particularly key.
Check out these mitts from Black Yak – made from fleece and wool, they’ve got handy flaps for your fingers AND thumbs, making it nice and easy to write or use your phone while keeping your digits warm (not whilst driving, obviously!). And at less than £15 they won’t break the bank, either.
#2 – Expect the Unexpected
OK, it’s easier said than done, but with the cold weather comes some nasty surprises. We’ve all heard of black ice – but what actually is it, and what can you do about it?
#3 – Start Right (defrosting)
Defrosting your car or truck doesn’t have to be a big deal. Even if you’re in a rush. But, there are things you should definitely avoid.
Use the kettle?
Plenty of people will tell you never to use a kettle to defrost your car. It’s true – pouring boiling water onto your car can have catastrophic effects for the glass, potentially leaving you with a bill for a new windscreen or window. This is caused by the glass changing temperature too quickly (i.e. going from very cold, to very warm in a short space of time.
Top tip: Fill your kettle from the cold tap, turn it on for around 30-45 seconds and then pour it on your windscreen. This will bring the water up to temperature enough to melt the ice, but not so much that it causes your windscreen to crack. If it’s very cold (-5c or below), pour water straight from the cold tap first.
Why not just leave the engine running? Doesn’t that work?
Yes. Leaving the engine running with the fans on warm will also do the trick, but it can also cause problems.
Depending on how quickly your engine heats up, this can have the same effect as the boiling kettle – cracking your glass. It also puts your vehicle at increased risk of theft if you’re leaving it unattended with the keys in and the engine running. Not to mention the environmental impact.
#4 – Mother Nature
As we said, it’s not just the cold that can catch you out in winter. In many areas, you’ll notice a significant increase in the amount of deer and other animals venturing out into the road.
There are a number of reasons for this, but if the local authority has been out gritting, some animals like the salt which attracts them right to the highway.
- Keep an eye out for deer or other animal hazard warning signs. That’s a red triangle with a silhouette of the animal inside
- Use full-beam for better vision where appropriate, but be aware that full-beam can cause animals to “freeze” rather than get out of your way
- Animals, particularly deer, often travel in groups. If you see one, there’s likely more to follow
You’d be surprised how much damage even smaller animals such as badgers or pheasants can do to your vehicle. Hit them in the right place and it’s possible they could do enough damage to write it off.
#5 – Driving Style
This doesn’t mean making sure you’ve got your Ray-Ban’s ready. We’re talking about adapting your driving style to the conditions. One of the best ways of avoiding getting yourself into a tricky situation is using your anticipation.
- Slow down well in advance of junctions – harsh braking is one of the main causes of loss of control, particularly on ice & snow
- Drive in a higher gear. Low revs reduce the risk of wheel-spin
- Try to avoid changing gear on a hill. Wherever you can, select the right gear before going up or down a hill. Gear changes increase the risk of wheel-spin (uphill) or skidding (downhill).
#6 – Brake Check
In freezing conditions your brakes can be affected. This is particularly true with air-operated braking systems as water can build up in the system from the compressed air. Draining the tanks before and after your shift can save this causing a problem.
#7 – Buy a “Winter Car”
Don’t leave that mountain of cash sat in the bank – get yourself a 4×4 for the season! You’ll find it much easier to get around and you’ll see more of your mates as they’ll all be pestering you for lifts.
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