Winter driving tips
Winter driving involves different driving conditions that both driver and vehicle must be prepared for. You may have heard the transport agency campaigns advising drivers to drive to the conditions. But it’s also important to have your vehicle prepped for those winter conditions.
In winter, you’ll experience more driving in the dark, with fewer daylight hours and shorter days. If you’re in NZ’s North Island, you’ll probably be doing a lot of driving in the rain – which means slippery conditions, slower braking times, and limited visibility. And if you’re in the South Island, you’ll need to be ready for driving through snow and ice.
Here are our top 8 tips for getting your vehicle ready for driving safely in the winter.
Check your lights
In the winter, you rely on your headlights and taillights for safety more than any other time of the year. The days are shorter, so chances are you’ll be driving to or from work in the dark. For many people, the dimness of dawn or dusk is harder on their eyesight than at any other time of day. Everything seems a bit greyer, and it may be harder to read road signs or accurately measure the distance away from other vehicles.
So it’s incredibly important that all of your vehicle lights are working correctly. Grab a family member or buddy and check that all of your lights are working – headlights, taillights, indicator lights, hazards, fog lights. If they’re not, get in touch, and we can check and change them for you.
Check your tyres
Driving in the winter means there’s a much higher chance that you’ll be driving in rain, snow, hail or ice. In these conditions, your vehicle’s traction on the road may be compromised if your tyres are not in tip-top shape. It’s important that you have your tyres checked for tread depth. While your vehicle may still pass its Warrant of Fitness (WOF) by meeting the minimum legal tread depth, the more tread you have, the better the grip you’ll have, and the safer your vehicle will be for winter driving. Make sure you have your spare tyre inspected as well. The last thing you want to discover is that your spare tyre has been punctured or damaged and isn’t ready to use when you need it.
Check your wheels
Checking your wheel alignment and wheel balance is another easy way to ensure your vehicle is as safe as it can be for winter driving. When driving in rain, sleet or snow, you need your car to steer accurately and respond quickly if you need to avoid an obstacle or other vehicle on the road.
Get in touch with us at Roskill Auto Mechanical, and we’ll book your vehicle in for a wheel alignment starting at just $85.
Check your brakes
In winter driving conditions you need your brakes to perform as accurately as possible. Perhaps you sense your brakes are not as responsive as they should be, and you may tolerate it and compensate for it in dry conditions. But in the rain and snow, there is no room for error. Even a one or two-second delay can have serious consequences.
Book in for a brake check and give yourself that extra peace of mind that you and your vehicle are safe on the road. It may be as simple as changing a couple of brake pads to give you even more safety on the road in winter.
Check your windscreen and wipers
Poor visibility is one of the most common causes of accidents on the roads during winter. Yet improving the visibility of your vehicle is an easy thing to maintain. It involves making sure there are no chips or cracks in your windscreen, making sure your wipers are functioning properly, and ensuring your windshield washer fluid is topped up. Depending on where you live and how cold it gets, you may want to consider washer fluid that is specifically designed for winter temperatures as it has a much lower freezing point.
Check the conditions ahead of time
In addition to the checks of your vehicle listed above, there are other simple things you can do to prepare for winter driving. Before you head out, check the road conditions on Google maps or on your local radio traffic and weather reports. Whenever possible, plan an alternate route to get you to your destination in case there is an accident or roadblock along your route.
Give yourself extra time
Driving in a rush is dangerous even in the best conditions – but driving in a rush through winter conditions is downright irresponsible. So however long you think it will take to get to your destination, add in some buffer time to allow for slower driving conditions or unexpected delays. You’ll arrive at your destination in a more relaxed state, and you’ll be a smarter and more cautious driver if you aren’t trying to hurry through traffic.
Bring supplies – prepare for the unexpected
It’s a good idea to pack a winter survival kit and keep it in your vehicle. Items to include will depend on the type and length of journey you’re heading out on, but key necessities might include extra food, fluid and clothing. Pack non-perishable snacks and enough water to sustain you for a couple of hours if you have a flat tyre or break down on the side of the road, or if you get stuck in behind an accident that has delayed you or caused a road closure. You never know how long it may take for help to arrive during a winter storm. It may pay to pack an overnight bag with a change of clothing and a few toiletries in case you find yourself stuck overnight somewhere.
It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit and emergency supplies in your vehicle at any time of year. Include things like a blanket, spare warm clothes, a torch, spare batteries, first aid supplies, a high-visibility jacket, and some spare food and water.
To make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving conditions, get in touch with us at Roskill Auto Mechanical, and we can determine what checks your vehicle needs to keep you safe on the road this winter.