Winter is finally upon us, bringing cold weather, icy roads and stressed-out drivers with it. This is great for when you want to play in the snow or set the scene for a traditional family meal, but not ideal for the cold morning commute.
Icy roads can be very dangerous for drivers, which is why we have teamed up with Mercedes specialists, Dronsfields, to give you some tips on how to stay safe on the roads this season.
Invest in Anti Freeze
Antifreeze only costs a few pounds for a bottle but it could potentially save you thousands in potential repairs to your engine, radiator or water tank. Most antifreeze will last for at least two years but we recommend switching it just before the temperature starts to drop. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your engine.
To get the most out of your antifreeze, make sure that you get the right variety for your car, most car shops will be able to tell you which kind your model takes.
The general rule for antifreeze is to mix it 50/50 with water but be sure to check the back of the packaging to ensure that you use the correct ratio.
Take the time to Properly Clear Your Windscreen
We know how tempting it is to set off on your journey as soon as you have patch that you can see through in the windscreen, especially when you have to rush off to work, but setting off with limited vision is one of the major causes of accidents in the winter. So make sure that you give yourself at least an extra 10 minutes to properly clear your view.
One quick change that you can make to your morning routine to save time is to use the air conditioning to demist the windows. A lot of people assume that hot air will combat the effects of the cold quicker, yet even the air conditioning will be warmer than the windows. The aircon even has the added benefit of drying out the interior of the car, stopping the moisture in the air from condensing on the windows again.
Another often overlooked factor when clearing your windscreen is to make sure to clean any snow off the top of the roof. A sudden stop could make the snow fall onto the windscreen, obstructing your vision, which could result in an accident or a fine
Look After Your Tyres
Lack of traction is the most dangerous part of driving in the winter. This means that taking care of your tyres is the most important part of winter driving. While it would be excessive to use tyre chains in most of the UK, and actually harmful to the roads if there isn’t enough snow, there are still a lot of things you can do to stay safe on the ice.
During the winter you should make sure that you have 3mm of tread on your tyres, more if possible. In fact, it is worth investing in winter tyres for your car. These are tyres that are especially designed and use a different type of rubber to have more grip and should be changed when the warm weather returns. It could even be worth investing in a set of all-season tyres. This way you won’t have the added stress of changing your tyres over once the winter weather starts kicking in.
Top Tip: Be wary of a false rumour that has been spread around the internet in the last few years. This rumour states that letting some of the air out of your tyres will give your tyre more surface area, and therefore more grip. This is not true and is in fact harmful for your car! Driving on under inflated tyres can warp the body of your car, which can be irreparable.
The most important thing to remember when driving in icy conditions is that your stopping distance is ten times longer than it is in dry conditions. Be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front to compensate for this.
You are also at a much greater risk of breaking in icy conditions so make sure that you are always gentle on your breaks in order to avoid skidding. If you find yourself skidding, remember to steer into the skid in order to correct yourself safely.
Top tip: If you are trying to set off in the snow in a manual car, start in second gear in order to minimise your chances of wheel spin. If you are driving an automatic, check your manual to see if there is a dedicated snow mode, if not try using the 2 option to give yourself more traction.