Beast from the east: How to drive in cold weather
The AA has released advice for motorists preparing to drive during the polar vortex predicted to hit Yorkshire this week.
Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures are expected as the Siberian weather system sweeps in.
Road and rail disruption is likely, and the AA is mobilising extra resources to cope with the demand from drivers in need of assistance.
They are also urging motorists to consider whether their journey is really necessary in snowy and icy conditions.
Patrol officer Vince Crane said:
“A well maintained car should cope well with the cold but sub-zero temperatures always bring a big increase in the number of cars that won’t start, thanks to tired batteries.
“Electrical and tyre problems are the top two reasons for Members to call for help – and harsh winter weather makes such problems even more likely.
“The biggest problem is often an accident that holds traffic up and, if it’s snowing hard that makes dealing with breakdowns difficult – because AA Patrol are likely to be caught in the same hold-ups. I strongly urge drivers to be well prepared in case they are stuck for any length of time,” Vince Crane adds.
Coping with the cold – AA advice
- Allow plenty of extra time for your journey, including time to de-ice the car. It may take longer but it also means that you will have full visibility which in bad weather is vital. Don’t be tempted to pour hot water over the screen – if it has a chip the sudden change in temperature could lead to a crack. Best way is to use a scraper. And don’t leave your car alone with the engine running, that’s an invitation to thieves
- Make sure the windscreen and windows, as well as headlights and mirrors, are all properly cleared of snow and ice. Push snow from the roof and bonnet too as it will fly off while driving or, if you brake heavily, will slide down your windscreen and block your visibility. Make sure your lights are all working and use them in poor daylight visibility.
- Top up the windscreen wash with a good quality additive to reduce the chance of freezing. Keep at least quarter of a tank of fuel - an accident or closed road up ahead is likely to result in long delays.
- Take the essentials: Be prepared for your journey to take much longer than usual and pack essentials including warm and waterproof layers and dry, sturdy footwear, high energy refreshments and a flask of hot drink or water, a torch, extra screen wash, any personal medication in case of long delays, a fully-charged mobile (with the AA app pre-loaded) and an atlas or sat-nav in case of diversions.
- Check your route for accidents or closures before you leave and, if possible, favour roads which have been gritted.
- Drive to the conditions and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front as stopping distances will be significantly greater. Drive smoothly, keep your speed down and avoid sharp acceleration, braking or cornering as far as possible. If you are starting on a slippery surface select a higher gear and gently let in the clutch. Automatic cars often allow a higher starting gear to be selected or have a ‘winter’ mode.
- Make sure your tyres are properly inflated – contrary to popular belief letting some air out of your tyres does not improve their grip on snow and ice – it has the opposite effect. If the tyre tread is below 3mm then get the tyres replaced as soon as possible – worn tyres are lethal on an icy surface.