Winter driving - How to cope with cold, snow and ice.
During particularly cold spells we are more likely to experience car related problems, however, with a little preparation and care, these can be avoided.
Here's some general advice and tips for safe and trouble-free driving through the cold, dark months ahead. However, if you want your car checked over by the people who built it, we will be happy to provide a winter check , just give us a call.
Keep the windscreen and other windows clear – if your vision is obscured through dirt, snow or ice, you could face a large fine. Snow from the roof should be cleared as this can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view. It can cause a hazard to other road users as well.
Improve vision by making sure that the windscreen is clean both inside and out. Scratches, abrasion and chips on the outside can also worsen the dazzling effect of the winter sun.
Use your air conditioning for faster demisting and to reduce condensation on cold windows.
Winter conditions easily damage windscreen wipers so check them and replace if necessary.
Top up Windscreen washer fluid and treat with a suitable additive to reduce the chance of freezing.
Battery and electrics
Lights, heaters and wipers put high demands on your car battery and if your trips are mainly during dark rush-hour periods, the battery may eventually fail.
So, avoid running electrical systems any longer than necessary – turn the heater fan down and switch the heated rear window off once windows are clear.
The older a battery is, the more likely it is to let you down. We can carry out a battery check for you and we stock a wide range of batteries for your car.
If the car stands idle most of the weekend a regular overnight trickle charge is a good idea to give the battery a chance to recover.
In below zero conditions, a continuous squealing noise as soon as the engine is started is a sign the water pump could be frozen. Stop the engine immediately and allow it to thaw out. This may take a few days unless the car can be moved to a heated location.
If your car overheats it's likely that the radiator has frozen which prevents the coolant from circulating. Stop straight away to avoid serious damage and allow the radiator to thaw.
Antifreeze is relatively inexpensive, but a frozen and cracked engine block could cost hundreds of pounds to repair.
Most cars use long-life antifreeze - it's important to use the right type and ensure it’s changed at the correct time. Check your handbook or call us for advice.
Make sure that all bulbs are working and that lenses are clean. When roads are really dirty you might need to clean lights after every journey.
You must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced. You may also use front or rear fog lights but these must be switched off when visibility improves as they can dazzle other road users and obscure your brake lights.
At least 3mm of tread is recommended for winter motoring, and certainly no less than 2mm. If you are in doubt, give us a call as we stock a comprehensive range of competitively priced tyres which are most suited to your vehicle.
Consider changing to winter tyres or all-season tyres – these have a higher silica content in the tread which prevents it hardening at lower temperatures, and therefore gives better grip in cold, wet conditions.
Before you set off
If the forecast for the following day is poor, set your alarm to get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car.
Plan routes to favour major roads which are more likely to have been cleared and gritted.
Put safety before punctuality when the bad weather closes in. Allow extra time for winter journeys but be prepared for the inevitability of being late for work due to unexpected delay.
Take a mobile phone for hands free use in case of emergency.
Driving in snow and ice
Stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow, so gentle manoeuvres are recommended.
Wearing snow-covered boots which may will slip on the pedals, should be avoided, dry comfortable shoes are best for driving.
To avoid wheel-spin, pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently.
Thinking ahead, leaving plenty of room to the car in front helps you maintain a constant speed and avoid getting stuck.
When going downhill, reduce your speed in advance, use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes. Leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front. If you have to use brakes then apply them gently.
If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip. Once on the move again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.
Here's what your Harry Feeney Winter Health Check includes...
Condition of tyres - Inspection of each tyre tread to ensure you get the right grip and braking distance on the road. We advise switching to winter tyres for enhanced grip and safety during the tough winter months.
Coolant – To avoid overheating and damage to your engines we’ll inspect coolant levels making sure they are correct and that the system is free of leaks.
Motor oil – To ensure you’re car performs at its best we’ll look at your engine oil condition and level.
Battery – We’ll thoroughly check the condition of your battery making certain that connections are clean, tight and corrosion-free.
Condition of all lights - All lights will be inspected to ensure they are in good working order and ensure they’re functioning correctly for good visibility on the road during those foggier and darker drives.
Wiper blades and windscreen washer fluid – So that you have a clear view ahead, we’ll inspect your wiper blades for damage and washer fluid levels.
Condition of the windscreen - Advice on any scratches or chips that need to be monitored or repaired.
Condition and fit of floor mats - An inspection to ensure the mats are not interfering with the operation of your car’s pedals.