The Starks in Game of Thrones had it right: winter is coming. So, before you get buffeted by the weather, here are our top tips for preparing you and your car to help you stay safe on the road this winter.
Keep an eye on your electronics
Car components integral to winter driving – such as headlights, heater and wipers – are all a drain on car batteries. And, while car makers such as Ford have come up with innovative new technology to assist in winter weather, it’s especially important to be mindful of your power consumption in order to avoid ending up at the side of the road.
Be proactive in replacing your car battery
Most batteries will last less than five years. If you’re getting close to this deadline, it’s worth the extra expenditure to replace it and save the hassle of a breakdown later on.
Save power wherever possible
All non-essential electronic features should be disabled. Even the essentials – such as cabin heating system or rear screen heater – should be switched off once the cabin has reached the correct temperature or ice and condensation have cleared from the rear window.
If your car fails to start, be gentle
Should your car fail to start first time, then you should try leaving 30 second intervals in between turning the ignition as this allows the battery a chance to recover. If you keep your car idle for any protracted length of time, an overnight trickle charge can help to revive the battery.
Prepare before you set off
Before the nights start drawing in, you should give your car a winter health check to ensure that all of the primary systems are in order. Then, before setting off on each journey, there are a number of checks you should make to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Allow additional time for your journey
You should leave at least 10 extra minutes per journey in order to prepare to set off safely. Clear the whole car of snow and ice (not just a slot in the windscreen) with a scraper and de-icer as you will need all round visibility. Be ready to take a longer route than normal to ensure you’re travelling on gritted road surfaces
Fill up with antifreeze
Whereas antifreeze is affordable and convenient to use, a cracked engine block will set you back a hefty sum and put your car out of action for some time. Most cars need a 50-50 mix of long-life antifreeze in the cooling system each winter, which would protect you down to temperatures of around -34°c.
Make sure your tyres are up to scratch
Four-wheel drive cars, such as the Mazda CX-5, are ideal for the wintry conditions. Tyre tread depth should not fall below 3mm to give you grip on slippery road surfaces, while reducing tyre pressure has been shown to be more likely to reduce stability than improve traction.
October is Tyre Safety Month, so why not get your tyres checked at your local Perrys dealership to see whether they are in shape for winter, or whether you may need winter tyres with an increased silica content to improve grip?
Slow and steady wins the race
Pulling off in second gear helps to minimise the risk of wheel spin when departing, while the gentle application of brakes can help improve traction on slippery surfaces – remember, stopping distance increases 10 times in icy conditions.
When facing a gradient, be sure to wait for a clear run uphill to avoid getting stuck halfway. Stay in a low gear when driving downhill and avoid pushing the brake pedal to prevent wheels from seizing up and enable engine braking.
Keep your eyes on the road
On top of slippery road surfaces and cold-sensitive components, winter is also the season of hampered visibility.
Clear your windscreen
Whether obscured by snow, ice, dirt or even stickers, any impairment to your vision should be removed before setting off. Air conditioning is the quickest way to remove a light covering of ice or condensation from the windscreen, while windscreen wipers should be returned to the park position so as not to freeze in a way that impedes your view.
Know your snow
Snow should be cleared from the roof of your car to avoid it falling off and potentially blocking visibility mid-journey. Snow also has the potential to dazzle in the winter sun, so it helps to remove any spots from the windscreen, to lessen the effect on your eyes.
If you want to book in for a winter health check, or want more expert information on the best preparation and new cars for the winter weather, call on the experts at your local Perrys dealership today.