When dealing with the potential effects of wintry weather on your car, there is no more immediate concern than ice – whether it’s on the road and affecting your driving or even impacting on the condition of your car itself, there are steps that you can take to avoid the worst.
First of all, in the case of ice on the roads, consider whether or not your journey can be postponed or put off altogether. The roads will be much safer in general with less cars on them to make the trip more difficult.
If you really must travel, prepare and carry out a checklist on the condition of your car. Fully clear the windscreen of any obstructions such as ice and snow so that your vision is clear. Ensure that all lights are free of ice and snow too; scrape away the debris using an ice scraper, and also make sure that your licence plate is fully visible to other drivers; the reflective surface acts as an indicator that your car is in the vicinity of others – not to mention the potential fines you could face if it is found to be illegible due to dirt or ice blocking the information.
Take great care of your car battery; in colder weather there will be more demands placed on it, as it will need to power more functions in the car than usual like heating, full lights and windscreen wipers. If you have any doubts that it will hold up during the journey then get it replaced as a matter of urgency.
If you should encounter ice on the roads and begin to skid, there are three things you can do to regain control of the car:
– Downshift in gears while gently braking so that you’ll come to a gradual halt as you gain more control of the car’s traction
– Reduce your acceleration without taking your foot entirely off the pedal
– Do not brake quickly – it won’t help and may in fact make the situation worse. If you have braked fast already, release immediately and then reapply gently but firmly
When you encounter ice on the roads, the most important thing to do is reduce your speed so as to allow the maximum time to react to it. Avoid busy areas where the surface water will freeze and refreeze with all the traffic driving on it. Black ice is a particular danger especially on higher ground.