Drivers Fact Sheets

Driving In Cold And Damp Weather

The wintertime can be hard on your vehicle. Here are some tips to make sure our vehicles can cope with the damp and cold conditions. Wet and cold weather starting and driving conditions impose a much greater burden on the vehicle’s battery especially on short journeys when the charging system doesn’t have time to replace the battery power drained when using the headlamps, heating the vehicle and de-misting the windscreen.

To Help Avoid Breaking Down The Following Simple Checks Should Be Carried Out

  1. Check you have enough fuel for your journey. Vehicles use more fuel when driving in heavy traffic and the stop/start conditions often found in the winter time traffic.
  1. Check oil and water levels and ensure you use the correct concentration of antifreeze. Antifreeze contains additives that prevent corrosion of the engine’s cooling system. (If corrosion takes place this can ‘sludge’ up the passageways and cause expensive engine damage).
  1. Check the condition of your battery. Connections should be tight and free from corrosion. Once checked and cleaned smear the terminals with petroleum jelly to protect them.
  1. Check your tyre pressure and tread depth – and don’t forget the spare. The current minimum legal tread depth for cars and light commercial vehicles is 1.6mm. (The greater the tread depth the more efficient the tyre is of clearing water in its path and providing grip in snow, making driving in poor conditions safer).
  1. Check your windscreen. Lengthen your screen’s life by having chips or cracks repaired.
  1. Check headlights and indicators. Make sure lenses are free from damage and are kept clean to ensure you can see and be seen.
  1. Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting. Use screen wash additive to help maintain a clear screen but don’t use washing up liquid as this contains additives that will attack the paintwork and can cause corrosion.
  1. Check the condition of your car key as a worn key may cause the lock to jam. Replace the battery in your key fob to maintain operating performance.
  1. Check you have adequate breakdown cover, as not all breakdowns are avoidable.

To stop the vehicle door from freezing shut overnight, spray a silicone spray such as furniture polish around the seal of the door before closing it and remember, a vehicle left out in the rain and cold is more susceptible to damp related breakdowns so if you have a garage, use it.

Also when you get in to your vehicle, remember to make sure your engine is running to ensure your vehicle battery is charging before switching on any lights, heaters or any other electrical systems. Switching these on before starting your engine could drain the battery and leave you stranded.

What To Carry In Your Car

  1. Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone.
  1. Take a can of good quality de-icer and a windscreen scraper and remember to keep a lock de-icer in the house to ensure you can gain access to your vehicle if the locks freeze shut.
  1. Take some high-energy food such as chocolate or boiled sweets. Carrying a thermos flask of hot soup is recommended on longer journeys.
  1. Wrap up warm and take a blanket, waterproof clothing and sensible footwear. 5. Take a torch and spare batteries.
  1. Keep a couple of rubber mats in the boot to help your tyres to grip if you find yourself stuck in snow.
  1. Keep a set of jump leads in your boot in case the battery goes flat – but ensure you follow the instructions in the vehicle manufacturer’s handbook before jump starting your vehicle as incorrect use could cause damage.
  1. Make sure you have your breakdown membership card/details with you.

Tips To Make Your Winter Journey As Safe As Possible Include

  1. In severe weather conditions, only make trips that are absolutely necessary.
  1. Check the windscreen wipers are not frozen to the screen before you get into your vehicle as failure to do so could cause the wiper motor to fuse leaving you unable to clear your screen.
  1. Use a windscreen scraper or a de-icer to remove ice from every window on your vehicle. Do not use warm water as this may cause the windscreen to crack. Carry a key de-icer with you to clear your lock.
  1. Use the vehicle’s air conditioning to help speed up the de-misting of your windscreen.
  1. Allow at least 10 minutes for your vehicle to defrost thoroughly before setting off.
  1. Plan your journey and, in severe weather conditions use major routes which are more likely to have been salted or gritted.
  1. Don’t drive if tired. Make sure you take regular comfort breaks.
  1. Remember to allow more time to brake and accelerate. Leave more room between you and the car in front.

If you do breakdown, make sure you know where you are and, to help to locate you, on motorways where possible use the orange coloured SOS phones to call for assistance.

In the event of a breakdown on the motorway, follow the safety advice given.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I confirm I have read the fact sheet ‘Driving In Cold And Damp Weather’

Signed………………………………………………………………… Date……………………………………………………………………

Name of Driver……………………………………………………Vehicle Reg…………………………………………………………