Sunday 15 September 2019

Take these key steps to make your car safer to drive this winter - RSA

'Make sure your vehicle is ready for the challenges of winter driving'. Stock image
'Make sure your vehicle is ready for the challenges of winter driving'. Stock image

RSA Expert

God only knows what Mother Nature has in store for us this year.

The tail-end of another hurricane? Another once-in-a-hundred years blizzard? Flooding?

Whatever may lie ahead, it makes sense to be prepared, and that means making sure your vehicle is ready for the challenges of winter driving.

Here are some key elements of being ready for the rigours of the winter weather.

* You really should start thinking about getting your car serviced, if you haven't done so already, to make sure that it is fit and safe to drive in difficult weather conditions. Once that's done, carry out regular checks yourself to make sure that all is in working order and good condition.

* Start by checking the lights. Get someone to help you while you sit behind the wheel of the car. Make sure all lights are working and clean. Lights are not going to be much use if coated in a film of dirt. With reduced hours of daylight and poor visibility brought on by poor weather, you really need to do all you can to be seen.

Your lights are not just for hours of darkness - you should also be using dipped headlights during the daytime.

* Around 14 people die annually because of defective tyres. Check yours now before the weather starts to deteriorate. Check pressure, tread depth and damage. New tyres have 8mm of tread depth. Don't let yours wear down to the legal limit of 1.6mm. Consider replacing them well in advance of that.

We don't recommend fitting winter tyres. They're made from softer rubber and stay more flexible in cold weather.

Unless you are driving in conditions where the temperatures regularly fall below zero, these tyres will wear down faster than all weather types.

* Windscreen wipers also need to be checked for wear and tear, and also replaced if they are damaged. A helpful hint is to put some anti-freeze liquid in the window cleaning reservoir. If you don't, your windscreen wipers could turn to blocks of ice in sub-zero driving conditions or in freezing fog.

* If you are using your fog lights when driving in fog or snow, don't forget to turn them off when it clears, otherwise you risk dazzling other drivers.

Remember, you must not use them in normal driving conditions, either during the day or at night, even if you think they are increasing your visibility.

* It's also a good idea to become familiar with the safety assist features that are on your car. During Storm Emma's big snow this year, we had reports of people brining their car to the garage because of unusual braking activity in the snowy and icy conditions.

It turned out that there was nothing wrong with the car - the strange braking was simply the ABS kicking in.

Take a few minutes before setting out. Open the glove box, take out the car manual and find out if your vehicle has safety assist technology such as electronic stability control (ESC) or an anti-lock braking system (ABS). Read about them to learn how these technologies can assist driving in harsh weather conditions.

l Carry a number of essentials in the boot. These should include a high-visibility vest, de-icing equipment, torch, a hazard warning triangle, a first-aid kit and a blanket or additional warm clothing.

l Something else that drivers should be prepared for at this time of the year is sun glare. The sun will start to sit lower in the sky in the morning and early evening. If you are driving straight into the sun at these times, you could be completely dazzled by the sheer intensity and brightness of its rays.

The situation is made worse if the windscreen is dirty or greasy, or if it's been raining or the ground is covered with snow.

Don't get caught out by sun glare. Make sure your windscreen is clean, inside and out. Invest in a pair of polarised sun glasses, because they'll help to reduce the effect of sun glare.

Indo Motoring

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