Friday 30th October 2015
The leaves are falling, the clocks have gone back… Like it or not, we are most definitely headed back into winter once again. When it comes to motoring, winter can be a challenging time for both staying safe on the road and also keeping your car in full working order. That’s why we’ve prepared some top tips for winter driving.
When driving, planning ahead is always key to a safe and pleasant journey. The same is true when it comes to defeating whatever the winter weather throws at you. Number one in your arsenal is rock salt, essential for keeping the driveway ice free and averting the inevitable. But did you know, putting down the salt before temperatures get to zero will tremendously increase its effectiveness?
So how does salt work anyway? Let’s see what the good folk at About Education have to say on the matter:
“Salt melts ice essentially because adding salt lowers the freezing point of the water. How does this melt ice? Well, it doesn’t, unless there is a little water available with the ice.
The good news is you don’t need a pool of water to achieve the effect. Ice typically is coated with a thin film of liquid water, which is all it takes (especially in the relatively mild British climate).
Pure water freezes at 0°C. Water with salt (or any other substance in it) will freeze at some lower temperature. Just how low this temperature will be depends on the de-icing agent. If you put salt on ice in a situation where the temperature will never get up to the new freezing point of the salt-water solution, you won’t see any benefit. For example, tossing table salt (sodium chloride) onto ice when it’s already below zero won’t do anything more than coat the ice with a layer of salt.
On the other hand, if you put the same salt on ice before temperatures reach freezing point, the salt will be able to prevent melting ice from re-freezing.”
When it comes to defrosting the windscreen, there are a few methods available. But before we look at what does work, let’s explore a few don’ts:
De-icer spray and a little patience – the spray will (relatively) quickly remove the ice and allow you to scrape off any remainder with a proper windscreen scraper. The main active ingredient in most variants is a form of alcohol, so for the environmentally conscious they don’t represent a great environmental risk – and are certainly preferable to running the engine until the heaters melt the ice.
Cover the windscreen. A good automotive shop will stock ice shields. Cover the windscreen when you park up for the night, and you’ll be surprised how effective they can be.
With the clocks changing, the days quickly become shorter. Add adverse weather conditions to the dark and gloom, and the dangers of being on the road increase dramatically.
It is recommended to always carry at least one hi-vis vest in your car so that it can be worn should you ever come across any situation in which you have to leave the vehicle whilst on a road. Buy a size or two larger to ensure it will easily fit over your winter coat!
It is also recommended to keep a charged up torch in your car, as well as a warning triangle. Whilst you will hopefully never have to use them, they are well worth the investment.
Also, keep spare bulbs in your boot and check your lights regularly, as increased temperature differences can increase the risk of bulbs blowing.
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