Winter is here… and as the long nights draw in, it’s important to take care and stay safe out on the roads. So here are some of our top tips for driving in bad weather to help keep you safe over the festive period.
Battery and electrics
Have your battery checked to make sure it is in a serviceable condition for winter.
You need a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water in the cooling system for winter. This gives maximum protection down to -34° centigrade, and without it, severe engine damage costing hundreds of pounds can occur.
Keep the windscreen and other windows clear – if your vision is obscured through dirt, snow or even sticker-infested car windows you could face a hefty fine. Clear snow from the roof as well as from windows as this can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view. It can be 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 sun.
Greasy smears on the screen that don’t go with use of a normal screen wash additive will require a little elbow grease. Try using a cream glass polish with a slight abrasive action. If that doesn’t work then try dishwasher powder dissolved in a little water – Use clean kitchen paper to clean a small area at a time and try not to go back over a patch you’ve just done.
Use air conditioning for faster demisting and to reduce condensation on cold windows. Check windscreen wipers and replace if necessary.
Make sure that wipers are switched off in the park position when leaving the car, when there’s risk of freezing. If you don’t and the blades freeze to the screen, you could damage the blades or wiper motor when you turn the ignition on.
Top up Windscreen washer fluid and treat with a suitable additive to reduce the chance of freezing. Don’t use ordinary engine antifreeze as it will damage paintwork.
Make sure that all bulbs are working and that lenses are clean. When roads are really mucky you might need to clean lights after every journey. Keep the number plates clean too, as you can be fined if they are dirty and illegible.
If you have to clear snow from the car it’s important to clear it from the lights – front and back – as well as from the glass and roof.
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.
We recommend no less than 2mm. Don’t reduce tyre pressures to get more grip – it doesn’t work, and reduces stability.
Before you go
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.
Driving in snow and ice
Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving – stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow.
Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving. Cumbersome, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals.
Up hill – avoid having to stop part way up by waiting until it is clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room to the car in front. Keep a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change down on the hill.
Down hill – reduce your speed before the hill, 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.
Automatic transmission – under normal driving conditions (motorways, etc) it’s best to select ‘Drive’ and let the gearbox do the work throughout the full gear range. In slippery, snowy conditions it’s best to select ‘2’, which limits the gear changes and also makes you less reliant on the brakes. Some autos have a ‘Winter’ mode which locks out first gear to reduce the risk of wheel spin.
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.
If you’re looking for a vehicle that can keep you going throughout winter regardless of the weather, we have a great range of 4x4s available for short, long or flexible hire, including the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and the Fiat Fullback pictured below.
If you’re interested in hiring a vehicle from our fleet for business use, you can get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org, contact your Account Manager or get a quote via the button to the right.
If you’re looking for a short term personal hire, you can call your local branch on 0870 90 20 20. Alternatively, you can get an instant price and make a reservation via the button to the right.