DRIVER CARE: Winter is coming, prepare your car!
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Winter is coming! Fully prepare yourself and, more importantly, your car for our coldest season with these 5 tips:
Keeping your tires in good condition
Tires are one of the most important parts during winter because roads can get very dangerous with weather conditions like snow, ice and glaze.
As of 1st of October, leasing companies accept the switch of summer tires to winter tires. Having winter tires is not legally required in Belgium but is it extremely recommended, as summer tires start losing their grip when temperatures drop below 7 degrees Celcius.
At Care4Fleets, we recommend to change your tires around the end of October. However, keep in mind that a lot of tire centres have very busy schedules around this time so calling for an appointment at least one week in advance won’t do any harm.
Starting your stationary car on snowy or muddy terrain
When going driving, usually it starts with getting your car on the road. If parked outside during winter or even fall, getting the car to move isn’t always a walk in the park. Don’t go crazy on the gas pedal, as this will make the wheels skid. Slowly let go of the clutch pedal while increasing gas. Turning off your ESP (electronic stability program) or traction control system will help, as these systems effectively decrease the power you can put out when you actually need that power to get the car moving. When doing so, do not forget to turn the program back on when you hit the road.
Adjusting your way of driving
Even when you followed our first tip, winter tires can’t do miracles and sometives even give drivers a false feeling of safety.
When driving the car, keep in mind that wet/glazed roads make your car have a longer braking distance. Pay attention to anyone who is driving in front of you and keep more distance between them. Do not brake suddenly, even when there is no one behind you. Sudden braking can make your car drift.
In case of drifting
Never say never… even the perfect driver’s car can start skidding. Braking hard or driving too fast around the corner are the first no-go’s when you want to avoid a skid. When you do feel your car starting to drift, rule number one is to stay calm. Don’t go stomping the brake pedal or wildly moving the steering wheel, this will only make things worse. Start with letting go of the gas pedal and pressing your clutch pedal as this will make you regain some grip of the car. When skidding to the right, gently move the steering wheel in the same direction to straighten the car. If you steer in the opposite direction, the car will only start drifting worse and eventually go spinning. Don’t get too focused on avoiding obstacles but instead keep your eyes at where you want the car to go. Avoid hard braking but instead let the car slow down gradually until you can safely move in the intended direction.
Maintaining your car in good overall condition
Above all, always having your vehicle in an impeccable condition is the best way to keep yourself from standing at the side of the road with an immobilized car. This includes having your maintenance done when due, keeping your wiper fluids, antifreeze and cooling liquids at a good level, having your car battery checked regularly (especially when not using the car often), making sure your tyres are still good to go (we recommend at least 3-4mm tyre depth during winter) and verifying your brakes are not worn.
Some more tricks
Do not use your hand brake during winter as it can freeze, instead place your car into first gear when parking.
When defrosting your windshield, avoid using hard scrapers or hot water as this may very well damage the glass. Instead use a defrosting spray or tepid water.
Don’t go driving very short distances, as this will wear on your car battery and make it more prone to failures next time you try to start it.
Doors can get stuck because of the rubber which freezes up. Prevent this by covering the rubber parts of your doors and trunk in some kind of grease.
Pack an emergency kit and some jumper cables, and make sure you know who to call if you really can’t figure it out. You can never be dead certain that your car does not run into a problem eventually, even when you’ve done every step above to prepare it in the best possible way. At that moment you’ll be happy you’ve prepared for the worst.
Safe driving, and see you again in summer!