The winter months are, more or less, here – and here for a while yet. With unpredictable weather yielding unpredictable conditions, it is more important than ever that drivers take care on the roads. But what are some of the better ways in which you can prepare for winter driving as a motorist?
Before looking at the various ways in which you can properly prepare your vehicle for winter driving, it is important to address the specific reasons why you should bother to do so in the first place. It is true that vehicles are generally all-weather things (with the rare exceptions of certain convertible models, of course), but this does not make them just as safe to operate in the winter as in the summer.
The winter months offer more in the way of adverse weather conditions, from icy roads to fog, low light and low visibility. These dangerous conditions, if not prepared for properly, can dramatically increase the likelihood of you suffering a road traffic accident or collision. Not only this, but the wait for assistance after such an event can be rendered discomforting or even dangerous for like of emergency supplies.
Checks and Maintenance
There are a great many different forms of vehicle checks or maintenance which can be done DIY, many of which should be done year-round. Oil levels and quality are two such forms, and can be particularly crucial to engine performance and vehicle safety in colder weather. As temperatures drop, older oil can get more viscous, and thus less efficient at its role in keeping the engine lubricated. Checking and topping up your oil can greatly reduce resistance in the engine, allowing the car to perform as it should.
Your car’s tyres are another year-round concern, but one which attains especial importance as temperatures drop. The larger issue presents in the form of tyre tread; colder weather makes for slippier conditions, as summer or all-weather tyres struggle to gain traction in snow or on water at high speeds. A new set of car tyres with a winter tread ensures that you retain control of your car in less-than-favourable conditions. Pressure is another key consideration, where lower temperatures result in lower atmospheric pressure – and hence lower tyre pressure.
Equipment for Safety
Vehicle maintenance is only one part of the equation, though. Many road traffic incidents involve two parties, and no matter how well you prepare your own vehicle, there is no controlling the behaviour of other road users. As such, if you do find yourself in a collision or breakdown, you will want the materials to hand to ensure comfort until assistance arrives.
A spare tyre (and the relevant tools) is a given, but you should also have an emergency winter kit in your boot. This would be a duffel bag filled with non-perishable foods, winter blankets and spare batteries for your devices. You might also invest in a hazard triangle to alert other road users, particularly in lower-light conditions.