Travelling in winter - how to prepare?
When it’s warm, you just get in and drive. But travelling in winter is much more demanding. First you have to prepare the car, and if you don’t have a garage, we have to be aware of a daily ritual of scraping windows. And these traffics, when it’s so hard to drive due to the snow...
Don’t take the example of road workers – don’t let the winter surprise us! Before the snow and frost attack, let’s prepare appropriately. It’s best to make a winter checkup, but an absolute minimum is the change of summer tires to winter tires, replenish the freeze resistant washer fluid, and also check the level of the other fluids. It’s also worth to check the condition of the wiper blades and replace them, if necessary.
But fluids, tires and wipers aren’t everything, what should be included on the list of winter shopping. Winning a war with winter requires a supply of windscreen scraper and snow brush. A shovel may be needed not only if you park in the open air. It may also be useful on a small snowy lane or parking lot which is covered with snow. Let’s not forget about the cables, which will enable the emergency engine start using a neighbor battery.
If we want to quickly get rid of ice and frost from the windows, there are special spray defrosters and preparations against frosting. In winter, you should always carry a defroster for locks in your pocket or bag (but not inside the car!).
If we’re planning a longer trips in winter, let’s not forget about such "gadgets" like a flashlight, a blanket and a thermos. That’s in case we got stuck somewhere in the impassable district road or... Polish highway. Before traveling let’s fill our thermos with hot coffee or tea, and tank our car to the full (in case of long hours in traffic).
Before we go
Quite a convenient way to get rid of at least a part of the problem with snow and ice on the windows is the use of a special cover on the front and side window. The necessity of putting on this cover everyday may be a bit inconvenient. That is why some people choose slightly less effective but simpler solution, which is covering the windshield with a piece of cardboard.
When clearing the car of snow, let’s remember to remove the snow from the whole vehicle. You should not only clear the windows (which should be transparent in its entirety) and mirrors, but also lights and plates. We don’t skip a roof either. While driving, fragments of ice and snow can fly into the path of another car, and that can be dangerous (you can also face a fine).
In recently produced cars it’s not recommended to warm up the cold engine during stops. After starting the engine, we leave as soon as possible, so that the car warms up already on the road conditions.
But before we leave, let’s dress appropriately. Appropriately to driving, and not only to the weather! The driver should have a freedom of movement while traveling, so it isn’t advisable that he was muffled in thick jacket, hat and scarf. Instead, he can wear a thick sweater or fleece sweatshirt. Also, remember about leather gloves. And remember that in winter, no less than in summer, sunglasses may turn out very useful.
Black roadway can be tricky. Sometimes the road doesn’t look like it was slippery, even though it really is. Therefore, while the temperature is low, or even at 2-3 degrees, you should always be very cautious. For this reason we should remain a bigger distance between us and the vehicle in front of us, to have more time and space for braking.
While driving in winter, many drivers like to heat the interior pretty strongly. But when it’s too hot inside, it's easy to lose the concentration. It would be perfect if we can keep the temperature of approx. 20-21 degrees.
To reach our destination safe and sound, it’s worth to give up the uncertain shortcuts and less frequented roads. Let’s remember that roads in Poland are divided into classes of clearing of snow. The most important roads are cleared in the first place.
We should be especially cautious if we're stuck in a long, winter traffic jam. In this case, the car can quickly lose the right temperature. It’s advisable to limit the heating, so that the whole heat from the engine wasn’t put into the interior of the cabin.
To save the battery, in emergency situations we can resign from the use of amenities, such as heating of the rear window, mirrors or seats. Let’s use the “power-eating” facilities as rarely as possible.
And when we reach our destination in a frosty day (or night), let’s remember not to leave the car on the handbrake. If we forget about it, in the morning we may have problems with releasing this brake. And then we can only turn for help to a mechanic or... wait for spring.
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