Winter is coming! Here's a few tips to keep you and your car safe...
The world is brimming with excitement to celebrate the festive season and welcome the New Year. But along the celebrations of winter comes a new set of challenges for you and your car. Cold weather conditions could test your vehicle’s endurance and driving skills. However, if you are always prepared, these challenges can be easily overcome. So here are some tips which will help you a great deal in maintaining your vehicle and driving in this challenging weather.
First and foremost, it is important to ensure your vehicle has at least a comprehensive car insurance. This will act as your safety net during the event of any unforeseen incident. So check the renewal date of your auto insurance policy so that you are well protected. This is the most important safety precaution, not just for the winter, but for the whole year round.
Get your car serviced
No one ever wants their car to break down. So it is necessary to prepare your car for any potential mishaps during winter. Start your season off right by visiting your mechanic for a tune up and other routine maintenance. Get your entire vehicle checked and fix leaks, bad worn hoses, belts, water pumps and spark plug wires as these can leave you stranded in the winter.
Working Fog and Hazard lights
Winter brings with itself fog and low visibility and the Gulf region has always been prone to this phenomenon. With car's reaching speeds of over 100 km/hr at an average, it's important to not only drive slow as a practice, but to also alert others that they need to slow down. Hazard and fog lights are best used during this time to increase the attention of drivers on the road. So, do make some time and get these lights checked. Do not forget your ORVM's (lights on your Rear-view mirrors)
Check your battery
The battery power also drops along with the temperature during winter. Battery power is very crucial as it takes more power to start the vehicle in cold weather than warm weather, for gasoline powered vehicles. In the case of electric and hybrid vehicle also, battery systems work better when they warm up. So prepare your battery up to the challenges of winter by having it checked by your mechanic for sufficient voltage. The charging system should also be checked and battery replaced, if necessary, Ensure small system repairs as well, such as tightening the battery cable connections. If you are an Electric vehicle user, ensure to keep fresh gasoline in it, to support smooth operation of the gasoline system.
Check your coolant system
Ensuring your coolant is topped up is extremely important. This is because the coolant expands when it freezes which can potentially damage your vehicle’s engine block. So make sure that you have enough coolant which can withstand the winter conditions in your area. Thoroughly inspect the cooling system for leaks or have your mechanic do it for you. If your system hasn’t been flushed for several years, do it right now. Also, the coolant needs to be refreshed periodically to remove dirt and rust particles that can clog the cooling system and cause it to fail.
Check your windshield washer reservoir and wipers
A lot of windshield wiper fluid could be easily used up in a situation of low visibility , fog, mist etc. So we should be completely prepared for whatever nature may send our way. Completely fill your vehicle’s reservoir with high quality fluid. It is advisable to keep some extra on hand in your vehicle. Achieving and maintaining the best visibility possible is very important for safe winter driving. So make sure that your windshield wipers work properly and replace the old worn out ones if necessary.
Verify floor mat installation
The floor mats should be put properly, as incorrectly installed floor mats in your car may interfere with the operation of accelerator or brake pedal which could result in a crash. Always choose mats which are the correct size and fit for the vehicle, which do not interfere with the operation of the foot controls. Whenever you are installing new mats, remove the old ones. Never stack mats as it may it will increase the risk of pedal interference. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mat installation and use the retention clips to secure the mat in proper position.
Check the tyres
Inspect the tires to ensure that they are properly inflated, the tread is sufficient without any uneven wears and the rubber is in good overall condition. Since, the tire rubber starts to degrade after several years, the older tires needs to be replaced even if they don’t show much wear. Inspect your tires once a month and always before setting out on a long trip. Also, keep a tire pressure gauge in your car at all times and check the tire pressure when they haven’t been driven for at least three days.
Understand your car
Every vehicle handles differently. While driving, increase the following distance enough so that you have ample time to stop for vehicles ahead of you. If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease the foot off the gas pedal while steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. Stay off the gas and brake pedals until you are able to maintain the control of the vehicle. This process is known as “steering into the skid”, which will help to bring the back end your car in line with the front.
Plan your travel
During winter, always plan and prepare for your journey. Keep an eye on the weather, road conditions and traffic. Keep your gas tank is close to full, even for electric vehicles. Ensure that all the necessary items required are present in your toolkit. Also include tools which could be especially useful during winters. Always carry around the necessary medicines and first aid kit. During winters, it is essential to carry a set of blankets, so if in any unfortunate event of car breakdown, you could keep yourself warm inside until help arrives.
So these are some tips for safe driving during winter. But remember to ensure the other basic safety measures while driving like always keeping your seatbelt on and not engaging in texting or any other activities while driving. So keep yourself safe and happy this winter.