Winter Driving Advice

18 November 2016 / Lindleys Autocentres

There’s no denying that Winter in the UK can be pretty horrendous. The cold and unpredictable weather can lead to a number of vehicle maintenance issues, including draining your battery and freezing engine parts. Adverse weather conditions also cause a number of additional hazards, making it even more important to drive with due care and attention, whether driving through Nottingham or out on the country roads.

Here at Lindley’s Autocentres, your number one car service, MOT and repair centre in Nottingham, we’ve compiled this handy list of advice for driving in the winter.

De­-Icing Your Vehicle

The Highway Code prohibits driving with poor visibility. It is, therefore, vital that you fully defrost your windscreen before setting off. Lindley’s recommend that you allow for at least 10 minutes to do this at the start of your journey, and however late you are running, you should never set off before your windscreen is fully clear.

You should also never use boiling water to defrost your windscreen; you run the risk of cracking the glass and can end up with an expensive repair bill.

Driving in Snow

Driving in the snow is one of the most challenging scenarios for any driver. In the case of heavy snowfall it’s always best to avoid driving at all, where possible. Even if the roads look clear in Nottingham, you may find the covering gets thicker as you travel out of the city. However, there are some things you can do to be safer should you get caught out by a sudden snowfall:

  • Keep your speed low and allow more time to stop at junctions etc.
  • If the road has not been gritted, try and avoid driving in the wheel­tracks of other road users; compressed snow is more icy compared to fresh snow.
  • Always remember to accelerate gently, using low revs and change to a higher gear without delay
  • Leave a larger gap between you and the vehicle in front.
  • If you feel your vehicle starting to skid, steer into the skid. For example, if you feel the rear of your car sliding to the left, steer to the right. Do not slam your foot on the brakes as this can cause the vehicle to skid more.
  • Braking, steering and accelerating need to be performed more smoothly.
  • Make sure you check your tyres! Even if your car passed its MOT, you still need to be aware of tyre wear throughout the year­ especially at Winter.

You might also want to consider investing in some winter tyres. Lindley’s Autocentres in Nottingham have a wide range of affordable tyres to suit all vehicles and conditions.

Driving in Heavy Rain

Breakdowns are more common in times of wet weather; this is because the damp can cause problems with electrical systems and engines, especially in older vehicles. When driving in heavy rain:

  • Don’t use your rear fog lights. They can sometimes mask your brake lights and potentially dazzle other drivers behind you.
  • Listen out for local news on the radio etc. to know about road closures and flooding.
  • Driving fast through deep puddles can lead to your tyres losing grip on the road. To regain grip, slightly ease off the accelerator and allow your vehicle to slow down until you regain grip.
  • Driving fast through deep puddles can cause damage to your vehicle, which can result in a hefty repair bill.
  • Keep an eye out for large or fastly moving vehicles which can create spray leading to reduced visibility.
  • In the event of you unfortunately breaking down in the rain, keep your bonnet closed until help arrives to keep the electrical system dry.

Again, if your car is due a Service, it is best to get it booked in with Lindley’s in Nottingham, before the bad weather starts, rather than wait for something to go wrong.

Driving in Fog

Driving in fog can be very dangerous as it can drastically reducing your visibility of the road ahead. Motorists must reduce their speed significantly to ensure their safety. Motorists must take extra care when driving in fog, making sure their lights (particularly fog lights) are working as they should before setting off. The Highway Code states that fog headlights must be turned on when visibility is less than 100 metres.

  • Make sure you know how to use your front and rear fog lights before you set off.
  • Be sure to follow the ‘two­second rule’, meaning to leave a minimum of a two second gap between you and the motorist in front. Avoid using the tail lights of the car in front to navigate as this can cause you to break the two second rule.
  • If your visibility is extremely limited because of the fog, wind down your windows at junctions etc. and attempt to listen for oncoming traffic.
  • If the driving conditions become so bad that you can’t see at all, consider taking a break until the weather improves.
  • Turn fog lights off once the weather improves to avoid dazzling other motorists.

Driving in Ice

Attempting to drive in ice is one of the most dangerous of all driving conditions, particularly black ice as it is much harder to spot compared to thicker white ice or snow. It is difficult for your tyres to gain traction when accelerating or during cornering. In addition to fitting winter tyres, there are other driving considerations to help keep you safe on the road:

  • In thick fog, only drive if it’s 100% necessary.
  • Be sure to clear all windows before setting off on your journey.
  • Try to leave up to 10 times as much space between you and the vehicle in front, as stopping times whilst driving in ice increase dramatically.
  • If you feel your vehicle starting to skid, steer into the skid. ­ For example, if you feel the rear of your car sliding to the left, steer to the right. Do not slam your foot on the brakes as this can cause the vehicle to skid more.
  • Braking, steering and accelerating need to be performed more smoothly to avoid your tyres losing traction.
  • Try and drive in a higher gear than usual. This can help the tyres grip slightly more.

Planning Ahead

Before setting off, it’s worth spending a few minutes of your time to plan your journey ahead in regards to weather and traffic. This can help you navigate the best route to take. A lot of patience and common sense is required when driving in winter weather. Make sure to take extra care when in these conditions, for both your safety and your fellow road users.

Winter checks, winter car service and MOT are all designed to keep your vehicle safe on the road, but that is no substitute for careful and considerate driving. Make sure you stay safe on the road, to book your winter service, enquire about winter tyres or if you have any concerns at all with your vehicle, contact Lindley’s Autocentres in Nottingham to get it checked out.

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