JK's Guide to Driving and Staying Safe in Icy Weather

JK's Guide to Driving and Staying Safe in Icy Weather

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JK's Guide to Driving and Staying Safe in Icy Weather

We here at JK, know just how difficult the Great British weather can be. To avoid getting stuck, we have put together a guide that will help you drive safely in icy conditions. 

Ice is incredibly dangerous and driving on it is a bad idea. If you must press on with your journey, we’ve prepared a few tips and preparations you can take on to ensure that your journey goes well.

Driving in icy conditions

We all know that ice is incredibly slippery and to drive on ice poses a risk to yourself and your vehicle. But if you have prior engagements, it cannot always be helped. A key thing when driving in cold conditions is to prepare. Leave much earlier than you usually would, to give yourself time to get to where you need to go. It will be necessary to drive much slower than usual and this will make your journey longer. Don’t risk yourself and others by racing on at your usual speed because you left late!

When travelling on roads you much leave roughly 10 x the amount of space between you and the car in front, comparative to what you usually would. This give you time to perform an emergency brake with little risk, if the person in front suddenly stops.

It’s always better to drive in a higher gear, when it’s icy outside, because this means the wheels will spin less fast as you accelerate. If you’re confident to do so, it’s best to pull away in second gear to prevent the wheels from spinning and your car to lose grip on the road surface.

When you’re driving long distances, it’s best to stick to major roads as these are the places most likely to be covered with salt grit. The salt melts the ice and the grit helps to provide a more textured surface to aid grip. Grit ins are positioned at the entry point to most residential roads and cul-de-sacs. If you’re setting away early and you can see that your road is quite slippery, it may be worth a trip to the salt bin before you leave. Not only will it help you drive out carefully but will help your neighbours out too. This is especially useful if you live on a steep hill.

Image credit Anne Nygärd, via Unsplash

Cold weather

In the colder months, we often experience ice on the roads and every surface in the form of frost. It’s good practise in cold weather to leave your car running for about 10 minutes prior to your journey, to make sure the engine is warm enough. Air-cooled or water-cooled, it’s bad for your engine to be run and revved straight away when it’s ben sat overnight, but this is especially bad in cold conditions. As your car warms up, it’s a good idea to turn the heaters on and fire them at the windscreen. Not only will this help to warm the inside of the car and clear condensation before you set off but will melt the ice on the outside which could block your vision.

It's also good practise to remove all the ice that you can from all windows. Any lack of visibility can cause a blind spot and if you’re not paying enough attention can stop you from spotting important hazards. Get yourself an ice scraper and this should be used on every window, if you can’t wait for it to melt by the heater. If the ice is particularly thick in some areas, be sure to remove it from the car. If ice slides down from the roof onto the windscreen as you drive, this can cause a disturbance to your driving and could block your vision in some rare instances. Another good thing to have, if you’re in a hurry, is de-icer. It’s incredibly cheap and very useful to have stowed away. Simply spray onto the icy areas and within a few minutes, it’s dissolved.

Similar to de-icer, you can purchase screen wash with ice dissolving properties in it. Not only will this prevent the screen wash from freezing in the bottle in especially cold conditions, but this will also provide what is essentially de-icer, as you drive. On occasion, it can be so cold during the day that you can see rain freezing on the windshield as you drive on the motorway, this is a great time to use your screen wash as it will prevent more ice from forming, and sluff it away with the wiper. 

Prevention

It’s never recommended that you travel in a classic car, in colder conditions, but rare circumstances do occur. If you must, then here are a couple of helpful tips that will get you on your way and hopefully keep you out of trouble.

Image credit to llum Isart, via Unsplash

Classic vehicles in ice:

Much like we mentioned earlier, you will want to ensure that you have kept your engine running for a short while before you set off. When it’s cold outside, this will make your engine cold, and this means that any metal components will be minutely smaller than when they are warm. Meal does expand ever so slightly when hot, and so if you put your engine under stress too early, this will cause some areas to experience a sudden change in temperature. As this happens, this causes immense stress on the engines tighter fitting components and cause potentially serious damage. So be patient and warm your car up as soon as you remember.

De-icer as previously mentioned is a great investment for some vehicles. Not all classics are blessed with great heating systems, if this is the case you are unlikely to be able to melt the ice on your windscreen via your heater matrix. In addition, to help clear the mist and fog, a good product to have handy is a microfibre cloth or pad. These are great at soaking up the moisture from your windscreen and help to quickly clear the condensation caused by the ice. And alternative to this would be a soft old tea towel or any old flannels you have stowed away in the back of an airing cupboard. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but an absorbent cloth that won’t leave fibres or dust on the windscreen is what you want!

Another thing to have handy, if your heater matrix isn’t amazing, is a hot water bottle. You don’t need heated seats! But if you find yourself shivering most of the time in your classic, it may be worth digging one out for longer journeys. Along the same lines is a flask of tea or coffee, it never hurts to have one ready before you leave. If you don’t have to stop at a service station for anything, it’s nice to carry one on your journey so that you have something warm to drink when you want it.

Lastly, you will want to make sure that your tyres are in good nick and have plenty of tread. Replace them before your journey if you haven’t already and you know you’ll be travelling in colder climates.

Image credit Bailey Zindel, via Unsplash

Modern vehicles in ice:

Make sure your coolant is topped up and well saturated!!! Not only does coolant keep your engine cooler than just water in high heat, but it also stops the water in your system from freezing. Depending on the type that you use, it’s a good idea to check what your current type recommends. Some coolants suggest a different ratio in colder months, or you may want to use a new coolant all together if you’re unsure.

Ensure that your ABS is working. Icy roads are prime time for your ABS system to kick in and if it’s not working, you may be in big trouble. This is something that should be checked and taken care of annually at an MOT or vehicle service, but it’s good to double check before the colder weather sets in.

Before the cold weather kicks in, it’s a good idea to makes sure that all the home comforts and fancy equipment that your modern vehicle as, are working properly. That goes for heated seats, heater matrix, heated windscreen, heated wing mirrors and others. These make getting going a little bit quicker in the mornings and it’s best to check them before you need them rather than to be late because your heater isn’t working and now you must scrape all the ice off your car.

Lastly important checks on all cars in icy weather includes tyre tread and tyre pressure. Most modern cars will alert you if there appears to be an issue but it’s good practise. If you know you will be making lots of journeys in your vehicle this winter, it may be worth investing in some winter tyres.

A great way to prepare for the upcoming winter is to check the forecast ahead. Visit the Met Office website via this link. Use this website to check the weather forecast before you set off, to check for any potential interruptions to your journey.

Just Kampers Insurance

If you cover your vehicles with Just Kampers Insurance, modern or classic, then we’ve got you covered. If the icy roads get the better of you and you end up stuck, then JK Insurance can help you out!

JK Insurance customers get UK and European roadside assistance and home-start cover from just £42.00 for cars, £47.00 for vans, and £90.00 for campervans annually. Which means that we can rescue you rain or shine, if you break down and need a helping hand.

For more information on Just Kampers Insurance, please visit our website via this link

 

7 months ago