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Tips for Driving in Winter

August 30, 2018
Tips for Driving in Winter

Ah, what a glorious time of year for those of us who love a winter wonderland. 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, we'd recommend popping into your local Bob Jane T-Marts so our team can check your tyre health, wheel alignment and your car's battery. We 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 Vic Roads 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. There'd be nothing worse than getting to the checkpoint and having to fork out a fortune for new chains. Even more horrible would be having to drive home!


Fitting snow chains to your tyres

You only have to fit chains to two driving wheels:

  • For front-wheel drive vehicles, fit to front wheels

  • For rear-wheel drive vehicles, fit to rear wheels

  • For four-wheel drive vehicles, if using chains, fit to front wheels

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. In icy conditions, your car might slide off it.

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. Tyres must be in good condition with more than 3mm tread for chains to work effectively. Once you've got them on, drive forwards and backwards a couple of metres to ensure your snow chains are still on tight.

Quick tip for Victorians: Before you take off, check VicRoads traffic website for road conditions.


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.

Check traffic apps or websites prior to departing on your journey to areas that may be affected by black ice.


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.


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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

  • When going on long road trips, leave earlier than normal to give yourself more time to reach the destination, as winter driving tends to be much slower than in warmer months

  • 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



Summary

Now you've got that mastered, make sure you have fun at the snow! If you’re unsure if your tyres, wheels or battery is up to the job, head over to your local Bob Jane T-Marts and let our trained team of experts assess your vehicle for you.

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