Ice on the windscreen
Be proactive and leave your house ten minutes earlier than you usually would, and never attempt to drive until your vision is clear as the chance of accidents will significantly increase and you will more than likely be held accountable for any damage. Make sure that your windscreen wipers are switched off before stopping the engine to park to avoid damage. Try popping your wipers up when you park so they aren’t left touching the windscreen if a freeze is in the forecast. This makes it easier to clear ice from the windscreen. Keep a good stock of de-icer in your car and practise good utilisation of air conditioning to speed up the condensation removal inside your car.
Dirt or salt residue will magnify the effect of the sun. According to IAM RoadSmart, in 2015 low lying sun was a factor in over 2,500 crashes (including 17 fatalities). So, remember to top up your windscreen wash and it’s a good idea to keep a scraper in your car. Avoid using your windscreen wipers to remove ice from your windscreen as this could damage the blades.
Starting your engine
GEM motor assist advises that on starting the engine; depress the clutch pedal when starting. This will make sure the starter motor will not need to rotate the gearbox shafts with cold and thick transmission oil. After the engine has started you can release the pedal slowly.
Check your antifreeze
Make sure your antifreeze is effective and in good supply as it stops the water in the engine cooling system from freezing. Antifreeze tester costs around £5. This is a tube/pipette type object that you lower into the coolant (when the engine is cold) to measure the freezing point. Make sure antifreeze strength is between 30% & 50%. The engine will freeze if the concentration is too low, and if too high the effectiveness of the solution to disperse heat is reduced.
Remove the snow from the roof of your car before you begin driving. Snow falling from vehicles fall in the way and obstruct the visibility of yourself and other drivers. There is also an increased chance of being pulled over by police due to obstruction of registration plates, which can potentially lead to a penalty.
IAM RoadSmart also recommends dressing warmly for the winter. Many drivers dress based on their car heater, and do not consider the potential to be stranded in the cold.
‘See and be seen’
Daytime is shorter and weather is worse. Ensure exterior car lights are clear and don’t forget to turn your lights on in the dark mornings and early evenings. Remember to carry extra lights in case you need a replacement.
The AA recommends that motorists have 3mm of tyre tread depth in winter for driving (the legal requirement is 1.6mm). The tread disperses loose water and snow and helps the car from aquaplaning (the deeper the tread depth the better in terms of snow/rainy conditions). Check tyre pressure once a week also. Tyre pressure in winter can also be an important factor to consider. Tyres lose a pound of pressure for every drop of 12 degrees Celsius – and an under-inflated tyre will not grip through the snow as one with pressure.
Don’t risk running late because of a flat battery. Winter can increase stress on battery life particularly if you park outdoors. Check your battery (some car-parts stores do this for free).
GEM motoring assist recommend that if you cover many short journeys then there is a higher risk that your engine will not get the chance to warm up fully during the winter months. Try driving your car for a longer period of time at least once a fortnight (in speeds of 45mph+). Make sure your turn off any accessories that are likely to drain your battery as soon as you are finished with them, such as heated rear windows and seats.