Winter driving is about more than just remembering to switch on your headlights – in fact, even the AA’s winter driving tips warn against exposing your car battery to the high demands placed on it by regularly driving with your headlights on.
It might sound counter-intuitive, but actually if you can drive more often in daylight, your battery will last longer than if it is under the constant strain of having the headlights and heaters switched on.
Here are some other winter driving tips that should help to keep you on the roads in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year.
Check your tyre treads and pressures – slightly lower pressure may help to increase your grip on the road, but you should always make sure you are within the safe recommended range of tyre pressures, and the AA say it’s not worth risking driving on low-pressure tyres for a negligible benefit in terms of grip.
You can also improve grip with snow chains for cars that are to be driven in wintry conditions – these are becoming more common in the UK following the heavy snowfall during several recent winters.
Snow chains for cars in the UK should only be fitted when the weather conditions demand it – if you drive with chains on roads that do not have a substantial snow covering, you may damage the road itself.
Make sure you have antifreeze in your vehicle’s cooling system, to prevent it from freezing up completely.
You also need a non-freeze windscreen wash if you are to be able to spray your windscreen in sub-zero conditions; however, don’t be tempted to put antifreeze in your windscreen washers.
This is because antifreeze that is designed for use in the engine cooling block could actually damage your car’s paintwork if used externally.
Take Your Time
If you find yourself crawling along behind another car in icy conditions, there’s probably a reason why they’re going so slowly – and you should too.
Leaving a much larger stopping distance between you and the car in front is one of the best winter driving tips, because while most of the others can be inconveniences – a car stuck on the driveway that won’t start, or a smeary windscreen that you can’t clean on the move – there’s no more helpless feeling than skidding towards the stationary rear of the car in front of you on a patch of black ice.
Take it easy, take your time, and make your manoeuvres gradually and carefully – steady acceleration, gentle braking, and so on – and overall, you’re more likely to reach your destination in the shortest time, and in one piece.
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