The temperature has definitely taken a downward turn in the UK over the last few days and although we’ve not seen any snow at GLR Towers yet we’ve been treated to a few frosty days and nights, so are you prepared for the sub zero temperatures? First off the basics, is your vehicle in general good order? Having a ‘sound’ vehicle to start with is half of the battle, just being safe in the knowledge that your coolant/anti-freeze is of the correct concentration goes a long way to being prepared as is having a good ‘winter mix’ of screen wash in the washer bottle, and don’t forget a bottle of screen wash (ready mixed) in the car for when you inevitably run out…
How are your tyres? Winter is not the time to be driving around with well worn tyres, in the UK the minimum tread depth required over 75% of the tread width is 1.6mm, however I think a minimum of 3mm is more realistic for maximum traction and therefore safety. You can also buy specialist ‘winter’ tyres that are constructed of a rubber compound that is best suited to temperatures below 7°c and they also have a tread pattern optimised for traction on snow and ice but that is a whole subject on it’s own and the decision to buy another set of tyres specifically for winter is one best left to the individual unless you live in a country that requires winter tyres to be fitted by law at certain times of the year. One last thing on tyres, check the pressures regularly!
Wiper blades are another thing that are often overlooked too, if they smear or only clear half of the windscreen get yourself a new set, you may be surprised to discover just how bad your old wipers blades were once you’ve fitted some new ones. A typical Land Rover trait is not being able to get into your vehicle on frosty mornings due to the doors and/or locks freezing up, I’ve found that rubbing a silicone spray onto the rubber door seals goes some way to prevent this happening. Once you’re in the car and assuming it’s a diesel always allow the glow plug light to extinguish before turning the engine over sometimes even going through the process twice on really cold starts can help and don’t forget to push the clutch pedal down (on manuals only of course!) to ease the strain of that first spin. Of course if you’re battery is in anything less than rude health you won’t be going anywhere!
One of my pet hates during freezing weather is seeing people driving around with most if not all of the vehicle windows still frosted over with ice usually with just a small rectangle of the ice scrapped from the drivers side of the windscreen tank commander style, it’s just plain irresponsible and dangerous, please clear all your windows before you set off, and don’t forget to use dipped headlights if conditions warrant it.
Next comes the almost endless list of ‘stuff’ to carry in the boot just in case…
There really is no definitive list of extra things to carry during the winter as there are so many variables to take in to consideration but here are just a few that may be worthy of inclusion;
- Extra, warm clothing (including hat, gloves)
- Wellingtons or walking type boots
- Mobile phone & in-car charger
- High energy snacks
- Torch (with good batteries!)
- Jump leads
- Tow rope/strap & shackles
- Hi-viz vest/jacket
- Sleeping bag/blankets
And so it goes on, this list really could be endless but as mentioned earlier there are many factors you should consider when kitting out your vehicle for winter and that can only be your decision ultimately, choose wisely!
The final piece of the winter driving jigsaw is YOU. Your driving style will be the single most important factor in you having a trouble free winter, highest possible gear, light throttle, awareness of the conditions and other road users and finally light, deliberate braking are the but a few pieces of advice worth bearing in mind, searching around the internet will reveal a whole plethora of advice and tips, take from them what you will but most importantly of all enjoy the winter and the challenges it provides.