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RAC Patrol tips for winter driving

29 Nov 2010 at 16:40

With the temperatures plummeting across the whole of the UK and unprecedented snowfall in certain areas of the country a lot of motorists are facing an uphill battle against the weather and winter driving.

Cars not starting remains the biggest breakdown problem and while there's sometimes not much you can do about a flat battery you can rectify other minor problems yourself.

Frozen door lock/handle

Use luke warm water, not hot, to defrost area or spray with de-icer.

Vehicle unlocked but door frozen

Use luke warm water, not hot, around door edge to de-ice seals. To prevent this happening again, use silicon polish on a cloth and wipe around door seals.

Frozen wipers

turn on the wipers. Make sure any auto wiper control is switched off before turning the ignition on as this could blow the wiper control fuse. Use luke warm water, not hot, to wash away ice and clear windscreen.

Frozen washers

As above, don't operate your washers if they're frozen, as this could blow the protection fuse. Use luke warm water, not hot, to wash away ice and clear windscreen. Use a bottle of water where convenient to wash the windscreen and maintain forward vision.

Driving away

It's important to accelerate very gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as progress allows. It may be necessary to move off in the second gear as this will help reduce wheel slip.

Once you're on the move, take extra care while driving to prevent skidding and watch out for black ice.

Getting stuck on ice

make sure that your parking brake is on, as once free of any blockage the vehicle may move on its own. At home, use salt or gravel to help grip. If this isn't available, an old carpet, car mat or something similar placed under or just in front of the slipping wheel will provide traction to move the vehicle.Use a low engine speed and keep wheel spin/slip to a minimum. If other road wheels are blocked from movement clear the wheels so the vehicle will move easily.

Driving in Traffic

Important: always
keep a good distance behind the vehicle in front as stopping distances will be extended. When you need to slow down, try to anticipate junctions or turns and change down to a lower gear before applying the brakes. Skidding is most drivers' biggest concern, and can be largely prevented by driving slowly. The available grip between tyres and road will be drastically reduced by ice and snow so to achieve grip wheels need to be kept turning, not locked, by braking or spinning by aggressive acceleration.

Drive slowly and think ahead.