On a general note, driving can be a very tricky thing to do, given that roads and circumstances are not always in the driver’s favour. As such, driving in snow or icy conditions, especially in the UK, can be a daunting task, even for the most experienced drivers, as snow or ice on the road can make things difficult.
These difficulties can be avoided if one just prepares for driving in the snow or ice. In this blog, we shall look at various ways that can make driving easier in winter.
No matter what, driving in winter is a tricky task. There are certain tips that can make it easier, and the following is a list of the most essential tips:
Planning and deciding on the route that you would be taking on your journey would help you a great deal, as you can be prepared for any sort of weather forecasts.
Always keep your car prepared during winters, to be able to tackle any sort of situation that you might encounter. Make sure that your car lights, brakes, tyres, windscreen wipers and car battery are all in perfect condition ahead of any change in weather.
Do not drive off immediately during the winter, clear your car windows, mirrors, lights, and the top of your roof of snow before setting off. Driving a snow-covered car would not only be difficult but could result in you breaking the law.
It is also important for you to de-ice your windscreen regularly, apart from clearing and cleaning the inside of your windscreen. All of this is mandatory as it is illegal to drive without full visibility through all your windows.
Always ensure that any auto wiper control is switched off before switching on the ignition, as this could blow the wiper control fuse if they are frozen to the screen. Your wipers should always be in a good working condition so that you would be able to clean your windscreen effectively.
Your tyres should have adequate tread to function properly in the snow. Tyres without proper grip will give away in snowy or icy conditions. If the conditions in your area are severe, it would always be wise to consider snow socks or snow chains.
A good screen wash should ideally protect down to at least -35 to prevent water from freezing on your windscreen.
It is always a good idea to be adaptable for icy and snowy conditions. This means driving at lower speeds, keeping a good gap between the car in front of you and your car, avoiding sharp braking and steering at all times, especially around bends.
Almost every modern car is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). While ABS is a reliable feature, it shouldn’t be relied upon too much, especially during winter, as it is not very efficient on slippery surfaces.
Make use of your dipped headlights when driving in heavy snow, as they light up the back of your car as well. You can make use of your fog lights if the visibility drops below 100m but turn them off without fail once visibility improves.
Always make sure that your car is equipped with: demisting pad, torch, a hi-vis vest to make you visible if you break down, a blanket to keep you warm, some food, a drink, spare screen wash, de-icer, ice scraper, blanket, shovel, phone charger, map, a first aid kit, a warning triangle, some jump leads, a spade and a square of carpet that you can use to put under your drive wheels if you get stuck in snow. Of course, the most important thing is that your mobile phone is charged to the fullest.
Here are a few other tips that could help you drive better in snow or icy conditions:
1. Make sure you are wearing comfortable and dry footwear
2. Never be hasty when it comes to accelerating in snowy or icy conditions. Always use low revs and change to a higher gear as soon as you can.
3. Make use of the winter mode in your car if you have one. Otherwise, always move off in the second gear, as this will help reduce wheel slip
4. Leaving plenty of room in the front will help you prepare for an uphill journey without having to change the gear.
5. While on a downhill journey, use a low gear and avoid braking unless absolutely necessary. Also, make sure there’s plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
6. Always brake before you turn your steering wheel, when approaching a bend.
7. In case you happen to skid at some point, then steer your wheel towards the skid, this will help you gain control over your car.
8. Be cautious of driving in the wheel tracks of other vehicles, if the road has not been gritted, because compressed snow is more dangerous than fresh snow.
9. When driving in heavy snow conditions, brakes, steering, accelerator and the gear should always be operated smoothly and slowly.
10. You can make use of sunglasses when out driving during the day, as they can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow
Winter tyres, snow socks and snow chains are products that will make driving in snowy conditions easier for drivers. Choosing the right product is based on your driving needs. Read on to understand more about each product:
As the name itself suggests, snow socks offer a better grip in snow, and useful in the following conditions:
Just as the name suggest, snow socks are like socks for your tyres. They provide an extra layer between your tyres and the snow-covered roads, thus increasing the grip of your tyres. They are also a very good alternative to snow chains, and are also much easier to fit than snow chains.
While snow socks are a good option, they may not hold well in harsh conditions.
Snow socks are ideal for the unpredictable nature of the great British weather.
In some European countries, the use of snow chains is compulsory. While this is not the case with England, it is always advisable to have snow socks in your boot, as they would help you in a sticky situation.
Snow socks are ideal for getting off a snow-laden driveway, or a road that hasn’t been cleared of snow, or when you have to go home after a sudden snowfall.
As stated previously, Snow socks are much easier to fit than snow chains.
Snow socks are available in a variety of sizes, from which you will have to find the right size for your car.
1. You will have to fit the snow socks to the driving wheels of the car
2. Applying handbrake, fit the socks to the top part of your wheels, and pull it down to cover the entire tyre.
3. Then, driving the car forward, cover the uncovered part of the tyre, so that the entire tyre is covered.
Do not think that you can overcome any sort of road with snow socks. They only offer protection when you’re in your driving limits, and do not make you invincible. Remember to remove the socks when you reach clear roads.
Snow chains are ideal to use on roads with a layer of compacted snow, and should be removed once you reach clear roads. Not removing snow chains on clear roads will damage your car and the roads, so don’t forget to do that.
While snow chains are not a mandatory requirement in the UK, unlike in other European countries, it is still a good idea to carry them in the boot of your car. They can come in handy especially in the hilly regions of the country, where the roads might not be treated.
1. A single person can fit snow chains to their car
2. First, lay your chains flat on the ground, which will help remove any knots.
3. Make sure that the chain hooks are facing away from the tyre.
4. Ensure that the cam-tensioning device is on the outside of the tyre if your chains have them.
5. Use a pair of chains on the front wheel, if your car is a front-wheel drive car
6. Fit the chains to the rear wheels if your car is a rear-wheel drive car
7. Snow chains should be fitted to all the four wheels if your car is a four-wheel drive car.
8. Double check your handbrake to ensure that the car doesn’t roll back and forth as you put on the chains.
9. The first step to fit the chains is to position them behind the wheel, by passing the bright plastic-covered part of the chain around the driven wheel.
10. Then, take both ends of the chain and lift it to the top of tyre: join the ends of the plastic-covered chain together and attach, before draping the chain over the entire wheel and tyre.
11. Pull the loose links around the edge of the wheels, using the connecting link to fasten the upper section.
12. Ease the link over the back of the tyre.
13. Then, pull the long loose length tight and pass it through the tensioning ratchet at the bottom of the wheel.
14. Pull tight before hooking up the slack chain.
15. Drive forward a few yards, then release the chain and give it a good tug.
16. This is an important stage: it will take up any slack that may have emerged as the chain settled on the tyre as the wheel rotated.
17. Re-tension by tidying up the loose chain and you are good to go.
18. While it might seem to be complicated at first, you will get used to it with practice, after which it would take less than two minutes to put on the snow chains.
The process of removing the chains from your car wheels is the exact opposite of putting them on. All you must ensure is that whether the car is in gear and if the handbrake is on, while the engine is off.
The best advice is to drive within a speed of 30mph, and to accelerate and decelerate gently, when snow chains are on.
Being careful during the winter, and especially in snowy and icy conditions is always a good thing for any driver, as it will help you keep safe. Following the above tips will ensure your safety during winter. Should anything go the other way, it is always advisable to have a breakdown cover, as that is what comes in handy in such a scenario. You can get a breakdown cover from Warranty Direct, which offers one of the best breakdown covers in the country.
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