Winter Motoring Starts Here: Avoid Breakdown & Cold Starting Problems

Scraping ice from a car windscreenWinter is now with us and all the usual problems that winter motoring brings will soon be with us. Frosty mornings, snow, ice and flat batteries — all of which are made worse because it’s dark most of the time.

The Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) and GEM Motoring Assist have both published some excellent tips to help you avoid too much car hassle this winter. As you might expect, the IAM’s list is focused on getting on the road safely in the morning:

  • Don’t switch on the engine until you are ready to go; a modern car does not need to warm the engine up. But do put the engine on if you need to run the heater/demister before you move off.
  • Clean any snow off the car’s roof and bonnet as well as windows.
  • When you get in the car, make sure all extras such as lights, heaters and the radio are turned off before you try starting it. Flat batteries are a common problem in winter.
  • Clean your windows inside and out – a dirty screen will cause the windows to mist up much quicker.
  • When you’re ready to go, switch the engine and heater on (air con if you have fitted; it keeps the screen dry) so that the windows don’t steam up.
  • Use the ‘ice’ setting if your car has one and it’s cold enough.

If you are unlucky enough to breakdown, then breakdown specialist GEM has some sensible words of advice:

  • Use your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction
  • Put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken down vehicle:
    • Place the triangle on the same side of the road as you are
    • Never use a warning triangle on motorways as this may put you in danger from oncoming traffic
  • Keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor
  • Do not stand (or let anybody else stand) between your vehicle and oncoming traffic
  • Wear a fluorescent/reflective jacket

Of course, there’s one other tip you might want to consider — using winter tyres or all-season tyres to make sure you can carry on driving as normal in all conditions, even snow and ice. If you don’t fancy changing tyres, then you might want to consider a pair of snow socks, instead.

In the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I’m currently running a set of all-season tyres on my van and am looking forward to seeing how they perform through the winter.

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