Winter driving tips from your local garage

Winter driving can sometimes be a skill all of its own. Being well prepared is key to ensuring you can cope with any eventuality if you’re out on the road in a cold snap. Here are a few tips from Birway to help you on your way.

Winter driving preparation

Prepare properly for winter driving by packing some essentials in your vehicle. Think about ensuring you have warm clothing, blanket, torch and first aid kit in case the weather turns or you experience a mechanical problem. An ice scraper, shovel, jump leads, de-icer and some grit or cat litter (to act as grit) are all the sort of things that are good to have with you during the winter months.

Other items to include if you’re embarking on a longer journey might be some water and food and means to re-charge your phone should you run into difficulty.

Prepare your vehicle

Make sure you have a full tank of petrol or identify somewhere you can fill up early in your journey. If you do a lot of winter driving for your work it may be worthwhile investing in some winter tyres and regularly checking levels of oil, water and screenwash.

Send Jack Frost packing

There’s nothing worse than coming out of the house, running late for work, to find the car covered in ice. There’s nothing you can do but just get on with the job of clearing the ice. You should ensure that you clear the ice from the whole of your windscreen and not just a peephole to peer through. You should also clear other windows too as well wing mirrors, cameras and lights. You’re best not to use boiled water as the sudden change in temperature can cause the glass to crack. You should also check that windscreen wipers aren’t frozen to the screen either as using them may rip the rubber blades away.

You also need to remove any snow that may have collected on the top of your vehicle. This is now a legal requirement and you risk being stopped by police if this hasn’t been done. Failure to do this can result in making conditions for motorists following you even more dangerous.

Change your style for winter driving

Driving environments and surfaces change considerably in winter and you should be aware of the differences. Stopping distances can be multiplied tenfold on snowy or icy roads. By allowing a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front you will allow yourself more reaction time in the event of a problem. Try and leave a gap of around 20 seconds from the car in front of you and drive smoothly and gently.

Changing the way you drive according to the conditions can help greatly in avoiding skids, wheel spins or getting stuck. In icy conditions progressive, smooth and slow use of the steering, accelerator and brake will contribute to keeping as much grip as possible with the surface of the road.

In a manual vehicle you should look to change gear early in acceleration and keep engine revs low. When decelerating gear changes should be late and again with revs as low as possible. Keeping the revs low ensures the engines turns slower, lowering the risk of wheel spin.