Get ready for Winter driving.

21.10.2019

Winter is quickly creeping upon us, the mornings are becoming cold and dark, while the roads have already become more hazardous than they were just a few warm weeks ago.

With the clocks going back in a few days’ time, and Christmas decorations already in shops across the country, it’s time that you got yourself and your car winter ready, so the winter driving experience isn’t something to fear.

At Vindis Group, we are fortunate enough to offer a range of brands, with a large variety of vehicles from SUVs and vans to electric vehicles and motorbikes. Today we are going to focus on the four-wheeled variety and talk you through some simple checks and requirements to make sure that you feel a lot more confident during those cold and icy winter months.

Preparation:

Before you head out, we’ve got a few key areas that you should routinely check over the winter period. Many of these you may have overheard before, or may come across as common sense, but we will reiterate for your safety. 

Get ready responsibly:

Always pack the essentials – It may seem like a no brainer until you forget and get stuck but there are several essentials that are strongly advised for even the shortest of trips. Always pack an ice scraper, first-aid kit and emergency pack that includes a blanket, gloves, hat, torch, water and food. These few items can make a big difference if you get stuck whilst out and about.

Will you get stuck in the mud or snow? 

If your vehicle is rear-wheel drive, it’s useful to carry a shovel and a tow rope, as these vehicles are more likely to become stuck in an unexpected snowstorm.

Cars with less to worry about in snowy situations include a variety of SUVs including the Seat Arona, Volkswagen T Cross and the Skoda Karoq, as they have better ground clearance and find it easier to conquer the snowy conditions. Those with a four-wheel drive system such as Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive, or Volkswagen’s 4Motion will notice improved grip and handling in all weather conditions.

Keep charged: 

Make sure to have your battery tested and replaced if necessary, even if there is just a hint of doubt as to its condition. The cold will add strain onto any existing issues as well as the extra power you’ll be using with heaters, lighting, mobile charging etc.

It’s also very useful to keep a set of jumper cables in the boot… just in case!

Keep on track: 

In an ideal world we would always advise people to change to winter tyres if possible as they provide a considerable difference to traction, grip and your confidence when the temperature drops below 7˚. However, if this isn’t possible, we still would strongly advise that your tyres are in good condition, tyre pressures are checked, your wheels are aligned and that you have a good depth of tread left before you set out on the roads. Volkswagen are currently offering a free tyre check to its customers, with other brands frequently offering winter health checks for your vehicle, so do keep an eye on our website for offers.

Keep your fuel topped up: 

It’s more important that ever to make sure you have enough fuel or charge over the winter – no one wants to be stranded in the cold. Before setting off always make sure you have enough to complete your journey. We recommend topping up before your car hits the halfway mark on your fuel gauge, as this will put more weight over the wheels which will help with traction.

On the roads: 

The experience of driving on a cold and sunny day can be its own reward. The approach is everything, so make sure to show both your car and the roads care and respect. Low-grip situations are great fun if you have a vast amount of open private land but on a housing estate with little spare room and many vehicles parked on the road – it can be the driving situation of nightmares.

Clear the snow:

Make sure to regularly clear built-up snow resting on top of your car, as this can shift mid-journey, causing problems for both yourself, and other drivers.

Take your time: 

Often much easier said than done, but always make sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Just because your morning commute takes 20 minutes in the summer, it could take three-times that if the conditions are bad. If you feel more in-control of your vehicle at a much slower speed, that isn’t an issue. Try your best to avoid feeling rushed or pressured under any circumstances.

Warm your car up before you drive: 

It’s true that modern oils and car components have a much great operating range that they did in the past but it’s still crucial that these are warm before you set off. Usually by the time you’ve cleared your windows of any ice or waited for them to de-mist, your engine has had the time to warm up appropriately. You don’t need to wait until the engine is fully warm but try to take it slow for the first mile or so, just to give your car a fighting chance, especially in very cold winter climates.

Don’t get distracted:

It may seem like an obvious piece of driving advice all year round, but it applies more even more so over the winter. Patches of black ice, roads with accidents on and other drivers can all become a hazardous.

Remember: 

Unfortunately, not everyone will be as ready and cautious as you are. The number one area to be aware of during the winter months is other drivers.