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Tips for Driving in Winter

August 04, 2021
Tips for Driving in Winter

Winter Driving Tips

It's that glorious time of the year again 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.


Before you go

Have your vehicle checked

Conditions in the snow may highlight existing vehicle faults. Before you hit the road have your tyres, battery, brakes, cooling system, engine and windscreen inspected.

Plan your trip

Roads can close in extreme weather. Check if there are any park alerts or road closures before you go, Vic Roads for those travelling in Victoria and Live Traffic NSW for those in New South Wales.


On the road

Snow driving tips

  • You’ll need to watch for signs of tiredness. Be patient and take a break. If you’re not enjoying the drive, it’s time to stop for a while.

  • For your safety, leave double the normal distance between you and the car in front.

  • Don’t break hard and avoid sharp steering movements. Stopping on icy roads take a lot longer.

  • Your radiator needs effective antifreeze.

Watch your speed

Observe local speed limits in resorts, chain fitting bays and elsewhere. Adjust your speed to the weather. Slow down when conditions deteriorate and proceed with caution, particularly in fog, snow or ice 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.

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 and Transport for NSW still recommend 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.

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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4WD vehicles

  • Although excluded from the requirements to carry and fit chains, it is recommended that drivers of 4WD vehicles (which include off-road vehicles, all wheel drive vehicles and sports utilities), except those fitted with winter tyres, carry snow chains and fit them when directed. They improve traction on roads made slippery with ice and snow. Chains are also helpful in extreme weather conditions.

  • Winter tyres are designed for driving on roads affected by snow or ice. They provide performance equivalent to snow chains on 4WD vehicles when driving on snow, and a better performance than standard tyres when driving on clear roads in cold conditions. Sometimes known as ‘snow tyres’, they should not be confused with ‘snow and mud tyres’ that are commonly fitted to off-road vehicles. Winter tyres are marked with a standard logo symbolising a snow flake and a mountain.

  • As an alternative to snow chains, 4WD vehicles not fitted with winter tyres may be fitted with snow traction devices, such as items made from textiles, that comply with the Austrian Standard ONORM V5121.1.



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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