Drive Lifestyle

Make sure car geared up to tackle icy roads over winter

IF you’re itching to get out on the slopes, it definitely pays to make sure your car is geared up for snowy road conditions.

The most important things between you and the road are your tyres.

Before heading up the mountain, Bob Jane T-Marts recommends dropping in so the local team can check your tyre health, wheel alignment and your car’s battery. They also recommend having your brakes, engine and windscreen checked pre-snow trip.

Winter Driving Tips

Use gears, not brakes – When driving, use the gears instead of your brakes to slow down, and make sure you watch for icy patches on the road, especially on bridges and winding stretches where ice may have formed. Take care to drive smoothly, with no sudden stops, starts or turns.

Don’t forget snow chains – You should always carry snow chains with you when driving in snow-affected areas. With the exception of 4WD vehicles, authorities require snow chains to be fitted to all cars when conditions demand. That said, the RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) still recommends 4WD owners to carry chains, since any vehicle’s traction is greatly improved by them on ice and snow.

Most importantly, make sure the snow chains are the correct size for your tyres and do not travel faster than 40km/h once they’ve been fitted.

Fitting snow chains to your tyres

You only have to fit chains to two driving wheels and for four-wheel drive vehicles, fit chains to front wheels.

Make sure the inner and outer hooks of the snow chains are securely fastened, and tie the loose ends of the chains down to prevent damage to mudguards. Once you’ve got them on, drive forwards and backwards a couple of metres to ensure your snow chains are still on tight.

It’s always safest to pull off to the left of the road and use a chain fitting bay. All snow chains can be fitted without the need to lift the vehicle, so never use a jack.

Beware black ice

Black ice can form overnight and is often undetected, especially on winding roads that see little to no sunlight. Extreme caution is required if you come across black ice, it is essential you remain calm, minimise or avoid using your brakes and accelerator, and limit the amount of turns.

Tyre pressures for snow

For normal and light snow conditions, ensure your tyre pressures are maintained in accordance with your tyre placard or adjusted for the load you’re carrying for snow chains to work effectively.

For heavy snow, it is recommended you lower your tyre pressure to assist you in getting traction

However, running tyres at too low a pressure can cause a tyre to break the bead seal, which may result in a deflated tyre.

General winter driving

Braking and accelerating takes longer in cold, wintery conditions, therefore it’s important to give yourself extra distance when slowing to a stop.

Keep your front and rear windscreen demisted to give yourself the best possible visibility out of the car.

In the winter months, the days are shorter and the nights longer, therefore you’ll want to be confident in your headlights before driving at night.