With the freezing temperatures we are currently experiencing, it is important to ensure your safety whilst on the roads. We have put together a quick guide to help you when driving in the winter months, along with some tips and tricks that might just help you along the way.
Many drivers take it for granted when they get in their car and set off. However, during the winter it is advised to make a few checks beforehand. Before setting off, check the local weather report of where you will be driving too and from. If there are any warnings for icy and snowy weather, only travel unless essential.
Remember, driving in the winter is different to driving during the summer. Adapting your style is important to remain safe on the roads. Even if a road has been gritted, take extra care. Stopping distances are increased (sometimes up to ten times the distance, according to the Highway Code) on an icy surface so leave extra room from the car in front of you.
Depending on where you are driving, the road conditions could change at any moment. Be prepared for this as you may be required to stop.
To avoid a sudden loss of control, it is best to drive in a higher gear than usual. Also, accelerate and brake more gently, giving you less chance of losing grip.
The last thing anyone wants to encounter is a patch of black ice on the road. The only contact a car has between itself and an icy road are the tyres. The legal limit is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre. The tyre must have the minimum tread around the entire circumference.
Most will recommend a minimum depth of 3mm as this will give you the best chance of finding grip when driving. To check your tyre depth, inexpensive gauges can be bought online or use a 20p coin and ensure the outer band of the coin is obscured.
If you have the option of swapping your all-round tyres for winter ones, this will give you the best grip during the winter – They are also handy during the wetter months too as they are able to displace more volumes of surface water.
Sometimes, tyre pressure can change due to the cold air, increasing the rolling resistance. It is best to check with your manufacturer to find the correct tyre pressure.
Having a quality breakdown cover policy is important throughout the year. With our car leasing offers, we include standard breakdown as standard. It is best to ask our team if you have any questions surrounding this as each finance provider is different. You are also able to sign up to your own cover if you require any further assistance during your lease.
If you are having trouble with your car, it is reassuring to know that someone is able to assist or rescue you, should you require it. We all remain hopeful that we shouldn't have to call the breakdown services out, however, life can be unexpected and throw some unknowns at you.
In winter, fuel economy can be reduced by around 15%. This is because the engine is working harder to get up to temperature, as well the fluids within the engine having a higher viscosity. In the event of freezing temperatures, keep the use of heated seats and fans to a minimum as these require extra power, putting extra strain on the engine. Also, colder air has a greater density meaning that it is harder for the aerodynamics of your car to push through the air, reducing MPG
For electric vehicles, the range of the vehicle can be dramatically decreased during winter. This is because you are more likely to use electronics in the vehicle to warm the cabin. Battery capacity is also reduced due to the way Lithium-Ion batteries store electricity.
In winter, it is more likely that electronics are susceptible to failure. Checking things like your front and rear lights, brake lights as well as fog lights are functioning as required. Whilst the nights are longer and days are shorter, having your car lights are essential to be seen and to help you see.
It is also important to make sure the lights are clear of any dirt, helping them operate at their best.
As mentioned earlier, batteries work less optimally in winter. Make sure your car battery has power and the terminals are clean. Not only does the battery power auxiliaries such as the radio, but it is also important to starting the engine up. If it isn’t operating correctly, it will make starting up more difficult, potentially causing lasting damage.
Winter screen operates in much cooler conditions than all-season wash. If you put the incorrect screen wash in your car, you will be at risk of the liquid freezing in the pipes. Not only will you be without the ability to clear your window whilst driving, but you also put your car at risk of further damage. This is because frozen liquid expands, if this happens inside the pipes that carry the screen wash from your tank to your nozzles, the pipes could burst and result in an expensive repair job.
You should never just fill your reservoir up with water, that is even more crucial in the winter due to the guarantee that this will freeze. Always look at the weather reports and fill your screen wash up with the correct product for the climate.
With more salt on the roads due to gritting trucks, your windscreen is more likely to become dirty quickly. That is why using a quality screen wash is important, some operate in temperatures as low as -15 degrees.
First thing in the morning or after leaving work in the cold, the last thing we all want to be doing is stood outside in the freezing temperatures de-icing and scraping the windows. As annoying as we all find it, it is important to not take any shortcuts that risk damaging your car or not completing the job properly.
There are many “hacks” online that show motorists pouring hot water directly onto a frozen windscreen. Whilst it might work online, you are putting your window at great risk of shattering due to the significant temperature change. It will be a lot more costly to repair the damage than waiting an extra 5 minutes when de-icing correctly.
The only things required are de-icing spray, a scraper plus a bit of elbow grease. Using both sides of the scraper, you should be able to remove most of the ice from your windows. If you need any extra assistance, a bit of de-icer will help you to remove the thicker parts, helping you be on your way a bit quicker.
- Change your driving style depending on conditions.
- Ensure your tyres have a legal tread on them. The legal limit is 1.6mm but a depth of 3mm is recommended.
- A high-quality breakdown service could save you a lot of time, hassle and effort.
- Fuel economy will be reduced during the winter. Be prepared as you will be filling up more often or charging your electric car regularly.
- Ensure all electrics are operating correctly, especially any lights.
- Use a high-quality screen wash designed specifically for winter.
- De-ice your car correctly and completely before beginning your journey.