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How to Prepare for Winter Driving

With the winter months upon us and as we face into the dark evenings and cold days, snow and ice are an ever-present problem on the roads. With Ireland being a temperature climate, we are not guaranteed to get a blanket of snow each year however, we still need to be prepared for this. With the ever-changing winter months, it has never been a better time to check what your car needs to gear up for the wet, cold, and winter driving conditions. Although maintenance of your vehicle may cost a bit of money, it will save you a lot of money and time in the long run. Driving in Ireland in the winter can be unpredictable and it can take a toll on your car. Having your vehicle in tip top shape will benefit your own safety, other drivers around you, and it will keep your car maintaining its full value. So, here are some of the ways you could prepare for driving in the winter months.

Tyres check

In the wintery conditions, your car needs to drive as efficient as possible so that is why your car will need the best possible grip. Inspect the thread depth on all 4 tyres, the tyres should be at least 1.6mm which is the minimum legal thread depth. If they get worn below this, they must be replaced. It is vital that you do not drive on ice or snow if your tyres are worn or bald. The pressure of your tyres should also be checked to ensure safer driving.

Replace window wipers

The winter weather can cause some damage to your window wipers as they will be used a lot more frequently. It is recommended they are replaced every 6 months depending on their condition but if you hear squeaking it is defiantly time to change them.

Turn your lights on

During the winter time as the days are shorter and darker, it is advisable for your dipped headlights to be turned on in the day time to increase your visibility on the road. Check both your front and rear lights are working.

Protect the paintwork on your vehicle

With the unpredictability of our Irish weather like the beast from the east or storm Ophelia, we could expect more extreme weather at any stage so it is important to be well prepared. With this type of weather, the paintwork on our cars can become dull due to ice, dirt, snow, and also by the salt that is laid on the roads, it can depend on the weather conditions. Adding a good layer of wax to the exterior of the car will protect the paint from rusting especially from the salt.

Clean your vehicle

Wash and clean your car as often as you can, this will keep your exterior clean and free from any corrosive substances like salt on the roads.

Get a mechanic to check over your car

Take your car to your local mechanic to ensure everything is in working order ahead of the winter weather. Parts that should be checked include:

     
  • Tyres
  • Brakes
  • Lights
  • Oil level
  • Heating
  • Anti-freeze level

Clear your window screens

Before you begin to drive on the roads, clear any ice or snow that may be present on your windows. Never use boiling water to clear the windows, as this could result in cracking them and also re freezing again. Use a commercial scraper or deicer.

Black Ice preparation

Black ice is one of winter’s hazardous conditions and it can be hard to see it. It can be an unwelcome surprise into a lot of sheltered areas on the road, near trees, or even as the snow starts to thaw.

Carry the essentials in your car

It is advisable that all motorists carry the following necessary items in the vehicle boot in the event of an emergency even:

  • A torch
  • Spare wheel
  • High visibility jacket
  • Tow Rope
  • Water
  • Equipment for de-icing (for door locks and glass)

Always have windscreen fluid

For your windscreen wipers to function in the cold winter months especially if there is ice or snow present, it is important to have windscreen fluid with de-icer. As stated above, clear your window screen of any ice before you start driving.

Slow down

During winter months where the roads are a lot more difficult to drive on with freezing temperatures and snow, it is important to drastically reduce your speed. You should be driving half the speed that the road sign suggests, e.g. if the sign says 80km, then you should be driving at least 40km per hour on the road. This goes without saying.

Use Anti-Freeze

Use a coolant or Anti-Freeze to help prevent ice from forming in your car. You can add it to the car’s radiator with water and this will reduce the liquids freezing point. The coolant or anti-freeze will ensure the car radiator doesn’t freeze over which in turn protects the engine from long-lasting damage.

Leave a distance between cars

Braking distances in ice and snow are even greater than those needed in the rain. Always give your car and the car in front of you at least 8-10 seconds when driving in snow or other severe weather conditions. During the winter weather, it can take longer to stop the car so slow down and always give plenty of distance between you and other vehicles.

Park Wisely

Always park your car in sheltered areas such as your garage. If you have a cover for your vehicle, use it as this will help with any damage limitations to your vehicle. Park in areas in behind a tall wall or hedge so your car will be protected from the winter elements.

Keep up to date

Listen to your local traffic and weather reports that are on the tv news or the radio. Pay attention to all the weather warnings informing drivers of dangerous and unsafe driving conditions.