Keeping your car maintained all year round, whatever the weather, is important, but especially during the cold winter months.
Cold weather can cause a number of problems for motorists – from slippery roads to poor visibility – wintry conditions can make even the shortest journey a treacherous one.
Road users must be aware that driving during the winter requires different driving styles and means being prepared for journeys that may feature varying weather, road and traffic conditions.
However, by following a few simple checks and precautions drivers can ensure they are ready for the worst of the winter conditions.
Preparing your vehicle
Before you set off during the bad weather it is wise to put your car through a full service and anti-freeze test – if this is not possible then there are a few checks you can do yourself including checking the lights are clean and working, the battery is fully charged, tyre condition and tread depth and that all car fluids are kept topped up.
Tyre condition and tread depth is especially important in poor conditions – tread should be at least 3mm deep and certainly no less than 2mm.
After preparing your vehicle you are almost ready to start your journey – there are just a few more things to check before you do.
Make sure your vehicle is fully cleared of snow and/or frost – especially in vital areas such as the windscreen, lights and mirrors.
Before you set off it is important to have an emergency kit with you in case anything does happen that could leave you stuck in the cold.
This kit should include warm winter clothing, a mobile phone charger, blanket, folding shovel, reflective warning sign and jump leads.
It is also important to keep up to date with the latest traffic and weather news – making sure you are aware of any road closures or traffic problems is an easy way of avoiding spending longer on the road than you have to.
On the road
Driving your vehicle on snowy or icy roads be a stressful ordeal but there are some techniques which can be used to help make the experience a safer one.
One of the main differences between normal road conditions and driving in snow or ice is the stopping distance – you must give yourself a much bigger gap to the car in front as it can take up to 10 times longer to come to a full stop on icy roads.
Avoid any sudden braking or harsh acceleration as traction between your tyres and the road surface is greatly reduced. Moving off in second gear is a technique which can be used to reduce any wheel spin.
It may be worth considering changing to winter or all season tyres to add extra traction – these tyres have a greater silica content in the tread which stops it hardening in lower temperatures thus allowing for increased grip and traction in cold wet conditions.
Unless you are in a rural area which has been affected by heavy snowfall it is unlikely you will need to use snow chains, however if you do it is vital to remember that they must be removed to drive on a normal roads without a reasonable covering of the white stuff.
If your car does go into a skid, steer gently into it, not against – for example, if the rear of your car is sliding to the lift, steer to the left.
Never take your hands off the wheel or aggressively stamp down on the breaks during a skid situation, instead depress the clutch in a manual car or change into neutral in an automatic.
When looking for a car that can handle the harsh winter conditions look no further than a BMW – in particular a BMW equipped with the xDrive system.
The super intelligent four-wheel drive technology from the German automotive manufacturer can handle difficult conditions without taking anything away from the superb driving experience which BMW is known for.
One of the cleverest features of the BMW xDrive four-wheel drive system is its ability to deliver torque to where it’s needed most – engine torque is distributed to the axels in a matter of a second so that maximum traction can be achieved.
The xDrive system is available with a number of vehicles across the BMW range including the incredibly popular X5 which is considerably agile despite its size with great performance and excellent fuel economy.
In the compact executive class you can have the BMW 3 Series; a multi-award winning model which is also equipped with the xDrive system- a car that manages top of the range performance, superior fuel economy and sporty handling.
BMW Winter Tyres are also a great option for drivers wishing to save money and increase safety during the cold weather.
Below seven degrees centigrade, BMW Winter Tyres significantly reduce braking distances and also last longer than stock tyres at low temperatures.