Driving in the winter can be a challenge; Here are some tips that will help you drive safer and more comfortable.
The winter months offer respite from the hot climate commonly found in most parts of India. Elsewhere, however, they can cause serious disruptions in daily life. Winter can be a driving hazard and there are a few ways to protect you and your vehicle. Here are some ways to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable ride this winter.
Winter car care tips
The most basic necessity is that your vehicle is well maintained. Have it serviced regularly and don’t neglect replacing parts with above-average wear and tear. This will help reduce the chance of vehicle breakdown.
Give it a thorough clean
Use warm water to clean all windows, rearview mirrors, all lighting components (headlights, taillights, fog lights, etc.) to ensure good visibility. Do not use hot water, as the difference in temperature can crack the glass. In areas where it often snows, remove snow that can accumulate on roofs so it doesn’t slide onto the windshield and obstruct your vision while driving.
Clean the ice on the roof of your car before you set off.
All lights – both outside and inside the vehicle – should work properly. To keep the cabin at an acceptable temperature, the climate control system must be in good working order. Wiper blades should be changed if necessary and its engine serviced to keep the windshield clear of snow or debris. An add-on to keeping your wipers working is to have a container filled with a mixture of water and washing machine solution.
Cold weather can affect battery performance and cause problems with starting the engine. Replace the battery if it is old and check all cables and leads. Engine oil and coolant should also be checked and changed if necessary, as lower temperatures can cause the fluid to clump.
Brake requires re-check once
Stopping distance can be adversely affected in wet or snowy conditions, so clean and service the brake system. Check and replace brake pads if necessary and clean and grease the brake pads if necessary.
Besides making sure your tires are in good condition (full tread and no cuts or bubbles), make sure they are properly inflated. Overinflated tires will increase the chance of wheel slip when driving in slippery conditions, while underinflated tires will not provide the right grip. Consider upgrading your winter or snow tires, or even using a snow chain; Practice fitting these into the tires so you don’t get confused trying to do it when you really need to use them.
Electric car care
With the growing popularity of electric vehicles in India, it is important to consider how to take care of them during the cold months. You should not store your EV in extremely cold temperatures for long periods of time. For example, Tata says do not store the Nexon EV at temperatures below -25 degrees for more than seven days. The reason is that extreme cold can freeze Lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles, making them unable to charge or power the vehicle. Also keep in mind that an EV’s range can be significantly reduced when driving in very cold conditions.
Winter driving basics
Driving in slippery conditions – whether caused by ice, water, debris or an accident – is difficult. One must remember to be gentle with the accelerator, brake and steering so that sudden movements do not lead to loss of control.
In the event of a skid on a bad road, the first thing to do is stay calm and consider where you want to go. Then steer in the direction of the skid; For example, when the rear of the car steps to the right, turn the steering wheel to the right to keep the car going straight.
When starting from a standstill, increase the vehicle speed slowly and avoid putting the engine in a lower gear because traction is less than usual. If your car has enough torque, you can also consider starting in a higher gear like second, but of course be careful not to damage your clutch. Some automatic transmissions have a winter/snow mode that helps the vehicle start in a higher gear and thus prevents the wheels from spinning. Winter/snow engine modes are also available in some cars that limit torque and deliver power gently.
Avoid turning, slowing down, or accelerating suddenly in the middle of a bend. Instead, brake well before turning and accelerate after you’ve exited the corner.
Reduce speed and use headlights and fog lights in low visibility conditions.
Cold weather also creates fog, and driving through fog also requires adjustment. Slow down and use fog lights as well as low beam headlights, as using high beams will create more reflections in the fog and will only strain your eyes. Remember to keep a moderate distance between you and the vehicle in front to give you some cushion in the event of a sudden stop.
Some parts of India have also seen the formation of ‘black ice’, which is a thin layer of ice that forms on roads as water melts and re-freezes. Although difficult to spot, look out for road surfaces that appear glossy or shiny and avoid them.
On an inherently slippery road, driving downhill requires the driver to keep a steady slow speed. Don’t step on the brakes, use them sparingly instead and use the engine brakes to control speed. In manual transmission, this can be done using the lower gear, and it can also be done in some automatic vehicles with manual control. Otherwise, there are also modes available that will prevent the transmission from shifting gears automatically. Excessive braking or repeatedly pressing the brake pedal can cause the mechanism to overheat and fail.
Essential items in case of emergency when driving in winter
Sometimes, there is no escape from a risk. Mother Nature may be in a bad mood or your car may suddenly break down due to an unforeseen problem. Therefore, it is advisable to leave some necessary things in the car, in case the worst case happens.
Keep warm but also get fresh air
A full tank of gas will help in the event of a breakdown. You can run the climate control to keep the inside of the car warm while you wait for assistance to arrive. However, remember not to do so in a basement or garage/warehouse, or even outdoors at all times. Idling the engine can cause the HVAC system to introduce harmful gases such as carbon monoxide into the cabin. Since it is a colorless and odorless gas, you won’t realize you’re being poisoned. Keep some blankets or warm clothing in case the climate control system fails or if you can’t use it.
Food and water
Some snacks and plenty of extra water can be helpful while you wait for help to arrive. A little food will make sure the cold end prevails and water will keep you hydrated.
Battery pack and charger
You will be in quite a difficult situation if your car breaks down and your cell phone runs out of battery. Have a spare battery ready, have a fully charged battery charger and power bank in the car.