We’ve already had a lot of wet weather this month and it looks like there’s more to come! I realised the other day that I must be getting old when I caught myself saying ‘well the garden needed it didn’t it...’!
It may be good for the garden, but it can cause havoc on the roads. Your car responds very differently in rain, ice and snow, so it's important to modify your driving style to allow for this. Here are a few things to keep in mind this autumn and winter.
Stay Out Of Puddles
‘Stay out of the puddles’ is probably something you say to your kids but the same applies to driving of course. Puddles will collect at the lowest point of the road each time it rains, meaning that there's an increased risk of potholes developing as water gets under the road surface. The consequence of this is that you've got no idea what's underneath the water, whether it's a wheel-bending pothole or a piece of metal waiting to puncture your tyre. Trying to avoid every single puddle on the road is impossible and unnecessary, it’s more about assessing the road and making your own judgments.
When you drive through water, the tread pattern on your car's tyres is designed to push water outwards and away from the road. If you're driving on a wet road with lots of standing water, sometimes your tyres can't displace the water quick enough. This causes the car to lift a little off the road and skim (or plane!) over the top of the water, meaning that you're no longer on the road. This can lead to problems when your car suddenly regains grip. The easiest way to know if you're aquaplaning is that your steering will go light and you'll stop hearing as much road noise, if you do ever find yourself in this situation, lift gently off the accelerator and hold on to the steering wheel until the car regains its grip.
It is absolutely essential to see and be seen when you're out on the roads. That means clearing your windscreen of ice and condensation completely before you move off - we've all seen drivers peering through tiny portholes in their steamed up windscreens! Take some time regularly to check that all your lights are clean and working, including asking someone to check your brake lights for you, or reversing towards a window so you can see the reflection.
In addition to your lights, make sure the rest of your car is in good working order and ready to tackle winter. Keep your screen wash topped up and make sure your wipers are in good order, so your windscreen stays clear and clean. Check that your tyres have plenty of tread (the legal limit is 1.6mm of tread but your tyre's wet weather performance will sharply decline below 3mm). Make sure your battery is in good condition by getting it tested at a garage, and check your anti-freeze levels to stop the engine coolant freezing up.
If you need any help or advice about preparing your car for bad weather, pop in and see us at Thame Cars. You can also book a free winter health check and we will check everything for you! We're always happy to help.