Five tips for cold weather

Stockport Express - - Travel -

MAKE sure you clear the cob­webs from your de-icer and ready-mixed washer fluid and get your ve­hi­cle up to scratch for the bit­terly cold weather we’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

To help you with this, Tim Shall­cross, IAM Road­S­mart’s head of tech­ni­cal pol­icy, has put to­gether five top tips:

Months of air con­di­tion­ing and dust builds up a grimy layer on the in­side of the wind­screen, so spend a cou­ple of min­utes get­ting it re­ally clean.

Use a win­dow clean­ing fluid or a mi­crofiber cloth.

A squeaky clean sur­face will elim­i­nate glare from the low win­ter sun and greatly re­duce the like­li­hood of the screen mist­ing up.

Care­fully clean the rear screen so that you don’t dam­age the heater el­e­ments and you’ll save hav­ing to put the heated rear win­dow on so much, which can cost two or three mpg while it’s on.

If you get that hor­ri­ble squeak­ing noise, it’s time to change the wiper blades.

When the new blades sweep the screen in ef­fi­cient, rain clear­ing si­lence, you’ll be grate­ful you did.

On icy days al­ways check that your wipers are not frozen to the glass.

At­tempt­ing to get them mov­ing can blow a fuse or dam­age the mo­tors, just adding to your woes.

The same prob­lem can some­times af­fect elec­tric wing mir­rors.

If re­ally low tem­per­a­tures are fore­cast don’t fold them in the night be­fore.

Readymixed washer fluid can be an ex­pen­sive con­ve­nience; it’s typ­i­cally £5 or so for five litres – more at mo­tor­way ser­vice ar­eas – and most of it is just tap wa­ter.

Many su­per­mar­kets sell con­cen­trated fluid which will di­lute to make at least 20 litres for less cost, even more when the weather’s mild and there’s no risk of the wash­ers freez­ing.

Al­ter­na­tively shop on­line, but don’t be tempted by hi-tech sound­ing pre­mium priced prod­ucts or the very ex­pen­sive ‘spe­cially de­vel­oped for X make of car’.

On cold days, don’t use the wash­ers un­til you feel warm air com­ing out of the heater, oth­er­wise the spray may freeze on your wind­screen leav­ing you driv­ing blind.

If there’s no magic wind­screen de­frost switch in your car, buy a cus­tom made ice blan­ket or just cover the screen the night be­fore with a sheet.

Do not use news­pa­pers for this as they tend to dis­in­te­grate into a soggy mush. In­vest in a good qual­ity ice scraper and a few tins of de-ic­ing spray and, most im­por­tantly give your­self that ex­tra 10 min­utes to get the car ready to go.

Clear the whole screen, not just a let­ter box area in front of the driver.

A badly cleared screen is dan­ger­ous and is an of­fence.

Three points and a hefty fine can be the re­ward for skimp­ing.

While you scrape and spray you can have the en­gine run­ning with the heater set to max­i­mum demist. But cars are at their most pol­lut­ing and waste­ful when cold, so you won’t be do­ing the en­vi­ron­ment or your wal­let any good.

As soon as the win­dows are clear, drive off. It is il­le­gal to leave a car run­ning unat­tended as well as be­ing a huge temp­ta­tion for the ca­sual thief. Most in­sur­ance com­pa­nies may not pay out if you make it easy for some­one to steal your ve­hi­cle.

Clear damp or snowy boots and coats out of the car when you get home – if you leave them in overnight the wa­ter will evap­o­rate and con­dense on the in­side of all the win­dows.

It’ll take ages to clear and the car will feel damp and mis­er­able for your morn­ing com­mute.

Even leav­ing them in the boot will make the win­dows wet and foggy, so get them in­doors where they’ll dry out prop­erly.

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