Simple safety tips for the winter weather

Home / Auto News / Simple safety tips for the winter weather

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Peugeot-208-driving-n-the-snow

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging motorists to take extra care, as more wintry weather hits the UK.

Road journeys are more difficult and treacherous when there is ice on roads, foggy conditions or a fall of snow, so GEM is encouraging drivers to plan ahead and be ready to postpone journeys if necessary.

For those who will need to travel, here are some simple safety tips to reduce the chance of risk, delay and difficulty – and to avoid putting additional strain on the emergency services and breakdown providers who are likely to be at full stretch in winter weather.

  • Don’t drive if you don’t really need to. The easiest way to avoid trouble from winter conditions is to postpone your journey.
  • If you do have to travel, ensure your car is properly equipped for the likely conditions. That’s because if you do experience a breakdown, you will most likely have to wait longer until help arrives. So get a winter check-up completed on your car – or at the very least ensure the battery is in the best possible shape.
  • Listen for weather updates, and plan your travel accordingly.
  • Ensure your windscreen and all other windows are completely clear of snow and ice before you set out. Give your lights and number plate a good wipe, too.
  • Prepare a set of essential items to take with you, including shovel, fully charged mobile phone, torch, ice scraper, food, water, jump leads, first aid kit, warm clothes and a supply of sand or gravel to assist with grip if your wheels are spinning.
  • In winter conditions, keep your speeds down, leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle in front, give room to snowploughs and gritter trucks, and be ready for sudden, rapid deteriorations in conditions.
  • Remember that driving in conditions like this is hard work. You are likely to become tired much more quickly than in less challenging conditions. So ensure you build in breaks on your journeys.

“It makes sense to have a plan in place that means you can postpone a journey, or switch to public transport. Agree to reschedule a meeting or a visit if it’s not vital,” said GEM chief executive Neil Worth.

“In that way, you’re avoiding a lot of potential trouble for yourself, and ensuring you won’t be putting additional strain on emergency and recovery crews, who are sure to be at full stretch in the coming days.”

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Give your car an Arctic BLAST check

Home / Auto News / Give your car an Arctic BLAST check

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Peugeot 2008 GT Line in the snow

Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, is urging motorists to be ready for the cold spell with a simple five-point checklist.

The checks spell out the word BLAST and are easy to remember when icy weather is predicted.

Kwik Fit has highlighted the key components which can be vulnerable to cold weather and are vital for ensuring your car can be relied on in winter, especially it has been used less frequently than previously.

  • Battery.  Batteries have to work harder to start a car in cold temperatures with problems sometimes only becoming apparent when it’s too late.  If a battery has struggled to start a car in warmer weather, a cold snap may place too big a demand on it
  • Lights.  The importance of working lights is obvious during the shorter hours of daylight, not only to see but to be seen
  • Antifreeze/coolant. Anti-freeze will protect the engine at low temperatures, but only at the correct level and concentration so the condition of the liquid in the reservoir and system should be checked
  • Screen. Visibility can be poor in winter weather, so drivers should make sure their screen condition does not comprise it further.  Screen wash level and wiper blade condition should be checked, as well as the glass for any chips or cracks.  If not repaired, these can become more vulnerable in cold weather.  Never use boiling water to clear icy glass as the very sudden temperature change brings a risk of it cracking
  • Tyres. As the only point of contact with the road, having tyres in good condition is even more important when surfaces are slippery.  Drivers should check tread depth, pressures and also sidewall condition.  They should also ensure that their spare is ready to use if needed, or if their car has an emergency sealant kit they know how to use it

“The first cold spell of a year always reveals problems with cars which are a surprise to their owners,” said Roger Griggs of Kwik Fit.

“The most common of these is battery failure which can happen with little or no warning. A engine which was starting during warmer autumn months may simply be too much for an old or worn battery when the temperature drops.

“In the case of tyres, drivers may not have noticed excessive or uneven wear until they need maximum grip in slippery conditions – and at that point it may be too late.

“As is always the case in motoring checks and maintenance, prevention is much better than cure, so we urge drivers to carry out winter BLAST checks in advance of any journeys they need to make.”

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Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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Millions of motorists stop driving during the winter

Gareth Herincx

4 days ago
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Peugeot-208-driving-n-the-snow

One in five drivers avoid the roads altogether during the colder months due to concerns over slippery roads and limited visibility.

However, anxieties about driving aren’t limited to the winter — with a third (32 per cent) of adults admitting they don’t like driving in the dark all year round.

And 21 per cent of drivers said they dislike driving on country roads the most, followed by motorways as a close second (18 per cent).

While 14 per cent of motorists said city centre roads make them feel uneasy and 13 per cent hate roundabouts.

The research of 2,000 motorists, commissioned by Zego, also found that 62 per cent would not like to be a delivery driver during the winter and Christmas period, especially having to drive in such difficult conditions.

Nearly four in 10 (39 per cent) are planning on doing their Christmas shopping online this year to avoid having to drive to the shops in the winter weather.

A massive 79 per cent said road traffic accidents they have experienced had put them off driving in the winter months, with more than half saying they are more cautious when driving in harsher conditions like heavy rain or snow.

“It is interesting to see how so many people hate driving through the winter months,” said Sten Saar, CEO of the commercial motor insurer.

“There are more cars on the road because of the Christmas period which naturally means there are more accidents. The weather conditions in particular don’t help.

“It is important to be cautious this time of year and to think about those who have no choice but to drive in such conditions because of their job.

“We are proud to insure the couriers who supply and feed us throughout the darker months, working a job many of us would be scared to do.”

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Winter tyres ‘aren’t a priority’ for UK drivers

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Audi RS 3: dancing in the snow

Just one in five motorists in the UK think it is important to swap their cars onto winter tyres, new research by Audi UK indicates.

The use of winter tyres is mandatory during the winter months in many countries and regions throughout Europe, but there is no legal requirement to fit them in the UK.

However, the study – which coincides with Road Safety Week- revealed that 61% of the UK drivers had no plans to switch to winter tyres this year.

For 44% of survey respondents, the absence of legal obligation was enough to convince them to pass up the added safety and protection winter tyres offer, while the impact on running costs of buying and maintaining an additional set of tyres was the spanner in the works for 40% of respondents.

Additionally, the potential difficulties involved in storing the wheels and/or tyres out-of-season was the main impediment for 22% of participants.

“The safety benefits of winter wheels and tyres are considerable from temperatures below 7°C – regularly seen in the UK as the winter months roll in,“ says Audi UK’s James Allitt.

“Our research highlights misconceptions among UK drivers about their merits, and also understandable concerns about the cost and inconvenience of ownership, and I hope we’ve gone some way towards addressing these misconceptions.

“Fundamentally, though, I firmly believe that any driver able to make the switch to winter tyres won’t ever regret doing so when they feel the difference they can make.”

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Driving peace of mind with all-season tyres

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres - wet

We get to grips with a set of Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

The weather here in the UK is highly changeable. It’s said that we talk about it more than any other nation and we have more words to describe it than any other language. There are even times of the year when we seem to experience four seasons in a day.

So, a car tyre that promises superior grip on summer and winter roads, plus excellent braking and handing in all weather conditions makes absolute sense.

Apparently, the all-season sector is one of the fastest growing in the tyre industry, but can an all-rounder be as good as two sets of tyres – one for the summer and another for the winter?

Tyre test

Unless you have access to state-of-the-art tyre evaluation facilities, there’s no better time to road-test new rubber than a straight swap with an existing set on a car you know well.

Earlier this year I bought my first BMW – a cherished 59-reg 1 Series with just 60,000 miles on the clock.

Even though it had a fresh MOT, the tyres were a disappointment. A mix of two brands I’d never heard of and a new cheapo (presumably to get it through the test), an upgrade was a priority.

What better time to take Goodyear up on a long-standing invitation to try out its acclaimed new Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyre, promising “excellent driving performance in all weather conditions, all year long”.

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

The first thing you notice about the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is the asymmetric tread pattern, complemented with deep and wide grooves, designed to disperse water (preventing aquaplaning) and offer excellent grip in all conditions.

Compared to the Gen-2 tyre, Goodyear says the improved structure aids dry braking by a claimed 5%, while changes to the tread offer better performance in wet and snowy conditions.

The new tread design also has more centre sipes – the narrow gaps that “bite” the snow – again creating a 5% improvement in handling on snow compared with the previous generation.

On the road

Once the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s had been fitted, I was in for a surprise. The improved comfort level and muffling of road noise was immediately noticeable.

Typically, I had to wait several weeks before I got to drive in the wet, but the dry spell did give me ample opportunity to compare them with my previous summer tyres.

BMW I Series - Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 tyres

Frankly, the difference wasn’t huge, which is a credit to Goodyear, because winter tyres typically have less traction in warm weather and stopping distances are increased.

Nevertheless, the stiffer construction of the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s definitely improved dry handling and stability when cornering hard.

When the rain finally came, it was biblical, so I couldn’t wait to get out to experience them in wet weather.

Naturally, I was initially cautious (after all, the BMW is rear-wheel drive), but it soon became apparent that the Gen-3 set was working its magic on the soaked tarmac – building confidence, but not overdoing it either.

The lanes around my village, which are often caked in mud left by tractors, can become treacherous during downpours. Again, the all-season tyres seemed to take it in their stride.

I’ll take Goodyear’s word for it when it comes to improved braking performance in the wet. If there was a difference, it was marginal.

Season’s greetings

Despite my ‘four seasons in a day’ comment earlier, it’s still too early for snow and ice here in the South West, so I’ll also have to reserve judgement for now. All I do know is that from the reviews I’ve read (plus comments form actual buyers), the Gen-3 is the next best thing to a hardcore snow tyre.

Rest assured, I’ll be back in the bleak mid winter after I’ve had a chance to test the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3s in sub-zero conditions, putting Goodyear’s claim that they deliver better grip and handling in the snow to the test.

In the meantime, I’m mightily impressed – the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is a truly versatile premium tyre at a remarkably competitive price.

Right now, it’s not even winter yet and I’m almost looking forward to a frost or a blanket of the white stuff. I must be mad…