Monday, 11 November 2013

When the frost bites

You sleep through your alarm; you spring out of bed frantically trying to get ready and sprint out the door to the car. Only to find your car covered in frost. Yes, frost. It may seem as though those days are far away but with temperatures dropping, there's no such thing as being too prepared.

Giving yourself an extra ten minutes to prepare yourself will make sure that you and your car are ready for the journey ahead.

But of course, before you pick up your car keys, you'll need to check the road conditions. If the roads are looking icy, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you really need to travel at all. If you do, it's best to keep to the main roads as they're more likely to be gritted. If you're making a long journey, check the weather conditions for the route you plan to travel and your destination too. The weather may well differ along your way.

During the winter months, keep a de-icer and a good scraper in the car. Before setting off, make sure you clean any frost or ice from all the windows so that you can see clearly.

Set off gently in second gear and try avoiding high revs. Higher gears will improve your control when on the move and avoid wheel spins. The important thing when moving is to get your speed right – don't go too fast, that will risk losing control. But keeping moving where possible, even if only at a slow pace. This is especially important when you're going uphill.

On ice, stopping distances increase by up to 10 times, so leave much more distance than usual between you and the car in front. You'll need to plan so you're not relying on your brakes to stop - on ice they may not do that for you. On bends, approaching junctions, and going downhill, reduce your speed early so you have control and are in a suitable gear before driving through them.

If you feel like your car is losing grip, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels to where you want to go. Braking, accelerating or steering harshly will only unsettle the car. Only use your brakes if you can't steer out of trouble. If you do skid, steer into it.

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