It is said that time flies when you are having fun which begs the question; how have we got to mid January in 2020 so seemingly soon and without encountering winter yet? It has indeed been a reasonably mild winter thus far while we ignore the obvious and extraordinary rainfall and high water table. Perhaps the slightly lower than average number of frosty nights just slips by unnoticed but brace yourself just to be safe. If the statistics are to be trusted and why not, we could just be on the cusp of a cold snap which would be nothing unusual for February. This of course begs the question given the mild temperatures thus far all winter; have you given a thought to driving in icy or snowy conditions or preparing your car for short-notice inclement weather?
The bookies may still give you long odds on snow and there is no guarantee that we will have a bad freeze but before you even drive your car on a frosty morning you have to get yourself into the car. Once inside you will have to promptly climb back out as you realise you can’t see the end of the bonnet! You really do have a chance to prepare yourself for this scenario so read on and put a few minutes aside and drop into OTTO to collect the priceless things you will need.
Here are some things you should ask for when you drop in to see us:
- De-Icer (handy hint – can work on frozen locks too!)
- Windscreen washer additive
- Wiper blades
- Bulbs (Headlight and tail light)
- Jump leads
- Tow rope
- Warning Triangle
Of course in a perfect world we will use none of these but take our word for it, each one of these will be priceless when you are scrambling around in a panic and too busy trying to get the car going to call ahead and delay that meeting… disaster! If you have had even the slightest concern about how fast or slow in fact the engine has cranked over on the starter already this winter then it is highly likely your battery will fail on a freezing cold night and this week some of these are forecast. Don’t leave things to chance, ask us for a replacement battery, they are a whole lot less expensive than a tow or break-down call out.
Once you get your car out of the driveway then you suddenly realise that the whole country is on your road to work and they are all creeping along at half a walking pace. This will cause your blood pressure to double instantly and then you realise just how slippery the roads are. Proceed with extreme caution is our advice. Below are some tips for driving on snow or ice if you absolutely have to:
De-ice your car – Take a few minutes with a scraper, cold tap water or de-icer and spend some time scraping, de-icing and importantly drying the windows and lights on your car. Use a rubber blade “squeegee” to dry the glass once de-iced before it freezes again. Take time with cold water to release your windscreen wipers if they are frozen to the glass. Similarly clear any snow from where the wipers park at the bottom of your screen. The wiper motor will be quickly damaged if it is trying to pack snow down to the bottom of the screen every time the wipers try to park. If you have had a problem with the wiper motor then give us a ring, we keep stock for just this situation!
Leave early – You will take way longer than usual to commute so get on the road early, plan for a coffee at the other end of your commute but do try to get on the road ahead of those thousands of cars that will creep all the way to work.
Drive slowly – Your stopping distance will be enormous. Not a lot less than rolling to a halt if it is really slippery. All your inputs especially on the throttle and brake must be gentle and progressive. If your driving wheels break traction take your foot off the throttle and point the steering wheels in the direction you would like the car to go, trying not to brake until the four wheels are rolling in the right direction if you possibly can. If needed you can press the clutch to let the driving wheels establish grip and start to roll, again this assuming you do not have to brake gently.
Keep your distance – It will take you an age to slow down compared to dry conditions so you really need a lot of reaction time if the car in front of you brakes or loses traction. The whole queue of traffic will move faster if you can roll gently along without braking hard. If you have to brake to avoid the car in front don’t panic! If the tyres break traction, briefly release brake pressure until you feel them start to roll and brake again. This is an advanced driving technique called Cadence Braking and while it seems counter intuitive it does work.
Be sure to have a mobile phone which is fully charged and plenty of fuel in the fuel tank of your car. Ideally have an in-car charger for your phone also just in case you have to spend a long time in the car. We have seen situations with people stranded into the night in their car so fuel to keep the engine running will be essential to stay warm and keep you safe and sound. Be careful out there folks and drop by any of our trade counters in Dublin Tallaght, Swords or Cork before the freeze hits.