We at Just Kampers know just how awkward the Great British weather can be. To avoid getting stuck, we have put together a guide that will help you drive safely in snowy conditions.
Snow causes many problems 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 snow
It’s obvious that we will suggest that you don’t try to drive anywhere in snow unless you’re experienced, and you know how to get places safely. This also depends on the severity of the snow, if it’s got to the point where some people are getting snowed in, maybe it’s worth not going. But if you must, you will need to prepare.
Salt grit is essential to the breakdown of snow and ice, and will help provide grip on slippy roads. Most roads will end up cleared of snow by the morning and will usually be gritted by trucks, but if your home street appears burdened with snow, grab a shovel and some salt grit. You and your neighbours can team together to shovel out a path to drive down for cars in your close and if you sprinkle some grit on top that should be enough to ensure a safe journey for you and others out of your road.
Much like ice, it’s important to try and drive in high gears to prevent your wheels from slipping. If you change gear much sooner than you usually would, the wheels will spin slower and are more likely to grip. If you’re confident enough to do so, pull away in second gear, as this will prevent your wheels from spinning when you move off at a junction.
If it is still snowing, it’s a good idea to drive slower than you would for severe rain. Snow is larger and more opaque than rain, so it can be much more difficult to see up ahead, even when cars have all their lights on. If snow is falling, it’s good practise to have your daylight running lights on at the very least, try to put your dipped beams on.
Leave at least 10 times the amount of space between you and the car in front when compared with the space you’d leave on a normal day. If you’re following a car too closely from behind and they suddenly brake, you’re in for trouble! By keeping a larger distance, it gives you more time to react and more time for your car to come to a stop.
In the colder months, we do experience snowfall and this can fall and re-freeze overnight to become thick and heavy. It’s good practice 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 been sat overnight, but this is especially bad in cold conditions.
When in snowy condition, try to leave your car running for a little longer than 10 minutes. As your car warms up, you should turn your heaters on and fire them at the windscreen and switch on the heated rear and from windscreens if you have them. Not only will this help to warm the inside of the car and clear condensation before you set off but will melt the snow on the outside which could block your vision.
It's also good practise to remove all the snow from the car. Any lack of visibility can cause a blind spot and if you’re not paying enough attention can stop you from spotting important hazards. Luckily, ice tends to move off in large pieces, so it shouldn’t take too long to remove. If you switch the heaters on first, most of the snow will glide off naturally. Before you set off though, be sure to remove all snow from the roof!!
There is nothing worse than setting off, stopping at a junction and all the snow from the roof sliding onto your front windshield, and now you can’t see anything. If you remove all the snow in the first place, you remove the risk of this happening. Sometimes it’s funny but it could cause a serious accident if you’re unlucky.
Some of the JK Team's vehicles parked up in the yard during the snow
It’s never recommended that you travel in a classic car, in snowy weather 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.
Classic vehicles in the snow:
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. Metal expends slightly when it’s hot, and 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 this could really damage your engine. 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 any snow on your windscreen via your heater matrix. If you scrape off the softer layer and then spritz some de-icer on the remainder, this should slowly drip off before you leave. Another thing you can do to quickly dissolve ice, is pour a kettle of boiling hot water over your windshield. It may sound silly, but if there’s no other option…go for it!
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. Ideally, if it’s just a show that you’re going to, you should bite your tongue and venture out in the daily for the day. But if you think the classic is up to the challenge, who are we to say no!
Best check your tyres are well inflated and have plenty of tread. If you’re in a more rural area and the first part of the journey isn’t blessed with gritted roads, you may want to get some tyre chains. Most places will sell them, if you can get yourself some that fit your classic, that may help you grip just that bit better
Some of the JK Team's vehicles parked up in the yard during the snow
Modern vehicles in the snow:
Make sure your coolant is topped up and not too diluted! 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 the bottle 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. Snow on 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.
Prior to winter, it’s a good idea to makes sure that all your fancy equipment is 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.
Lastly you must check the 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 and that includes the expectation to be able to drive in snow, it may be worth investing in some winter tyres with especially thick tread. The AA website has a guide to help you decide if your vehicle requires 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 snow on the road gets 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.