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Driving Tips: Snow

Driving Tips: Snow

These tips will keep you better prepared for wintery road conditions.

1. Winterise your car

Add the proper amount of anti-freeze to the engine coolant. It will protect your car against freezing and corrosion. Check the battery to make sure you have ample power for cold Winter starts. Check your brakes. If the brakes are not performing well, the car may pull to one side when stopping. Take along emergency supplies. A flashlight, blanket, sand or salt, and an ice scraper are indispensable. Check the heater and defroster. They'll keep you comfortable and the windshield free of ice and condensation. Change your oil. Winter grade oil ensures easy starting. Use the right windshield fluid. Together with proper wipers, an antifreeze solution will keep your windshields clean at all times.

2. Keep your grip

Adjust your speed properly before entering a corner to avoid understeer and oversteer. Avoid sudden movements to decrease the chances of sliding. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. Do not pump them. If your car has ABS, this will bring your car to a halt without skidding.

3. Think ahead

Allow extra time to reach your destination. Double the safe driving distance. Extra space between you and the car in front of you will give you ample time to come to a stop. Keep your car clean. Rinsing regularly with clean water will reduce corrosion caused by chemicals, salt and gravel used for de-icing roads. Beware of bridges and overpasses. Ice tends to form more rapidly on these surfaces, so adjust your driving accordingly. See and be seen. Take care of visibility by keeping your lights on and the windshield clean. Know what to do if you get stuck on ice or in snow. Do not spin your wheels. Remove the snow around the tyres and gently rock your car back and forth.

4. Keep your distance from the car ahead.

How to handle understeer: The car is not turning as much as you would like, because the front tyres have lost grip. Don't increase your steering angle or hit the brakes, as this will only make it worse. Instead:Take your foot off the accelerator and stay off the brake. The weight of your car will now shift forward. Carefully decrease the steering angle. You should be able to gently steer your car back to the desired path. How to handle oversteer: The car is turning more than you want it to, because the rear tyres have lost grip. Take the following actions, while paying close attention to the response of the car:Gently accelerate. The weight of your car will shift back to the rear wheels. At the same time, steer in the same direction in which the rear end is sliding. Look in the direction you want the car to go. That way, you'll be ready to adjust the car's path as soon as it starts to respond to your corrections.

5. Remember that 4-wheel drive is really only enhanced 2-wheel drive.

All four tyres get some amount of torsional relationship via the drivetrain, but only two really get full benefit of power application from the engine. When in 4WD mode on snowy, icy roads the vehicle cannot stop significantly better than a 2WD vehicle.

6. Anticipate conditions when off-road driving in winter.

Deep powder can and does hide stumps, rocks, logs and icy patches. Early season snow usually is easier to push through than late season snow, which has built up from additional snowstorms. It has a hard layer in between the soft snow and this can cause problems.

7. Be aware of the danger of snow building up under your four-wheel drive vehicle when driving off-road.

It can actually freeze your engine solid, even if it is running. And knocking it off can be damaging. Make sure the engine area is cleared out often and pay attention to the temperatures of oil, tranmission fluid and other important fluids. Watch for chunks of ice and hard snow getting caught under the vehicle and severing brake lines. During shallow water crossings, watch for ice flow and frozen brakes. Keep the engine running as much as possible when driving.

8. Winterise your 4-wheel drive vehicle thoroughly!

Check the anti-freeze - flush and refill. Inspect the hoses - replace if weak. Replace any belts that are cracked or glazed over. Change to Winter weight oil. Check gear oils and other fluids. Remove any moisture that has built up - it can freeze and cause problems. Check tyre pressure (including spare!) Check windshield washer fluid. Inspect the exhaust system for holes and leaks - exhaust fumes are doubly dangerous when windows are tightly closed!

9. Put together the most complete emergency kit possible, especially for off-road driving.

Use a solid container for your kit (a heavy bag or case). Some things to include: road flares, wool blankets, jumper cables, snacks, small cook stove, soup packets, cook pots and eating utensils, thick socks, hat, mittens, medications, tire chains, snow shovel, candle, lighter and matches, flashlight and radio with good batteries, something to read during long waits. Don't forget medicines and essential personal supplies.