Tag Archives: winter

Sixteen winter motoring tips

Winter-BreakdownHere’s some winter driving tips to keep you safe through winter months.

We’ve been lucky with the weather so far but it can’t last. Before we all descend into merry festive frost, snow and icy conditions here are our timely tips and practical ways to stay safer when driving this winter.

1. When the snow falls don’t make unnecessary journeys and avoid roads that are unlikely to get gritted.

2. If you have to venture out in bad weather make sure you plan ahead in case you get stuck. Food, hot drink in flask, warm clothes, suitable footwear, torch, mobile phone, important phone numbers, shovel – that sort of thing.

3. Keep your ice scraper, defrost spray and a pair of gloves to hand in the car. Clear snow from the car roof as well as the windows/windscreen in case it falls off and blocks your vision…

4. Don’t leave your car unattended whilst it’s defrosting – thieves love this and insurers don’t.

5. When the temperature drops below 7° consider winter tyres; they are MUCH safer re grip and braking. If you need advice, speak to one of our FOXY Lady Approved Tyre Centres

6. Is your breakdown cover up to date? What cover is it? Do you need Home Start? Your home is usually where your car won’t start, early in the morning and most ‘ordinary’ breakdown policies don’t include this and will refuse to come out unless you pay extra. It’s cheaper to add Homestart at the outset for peace of mind.
NB: Club members get a special RAC deal.

7. Check windscreen wipers and replace them if need be – visibility is everything.
Halfords will fit these but it’s very easy to DIY really…
NB: Where in doubt, members can ask us.

8. Keep your water bottle topped up and check this before a long journey – visibility is everything.
I remember driving in the outside lane on the M25 after a VW main dealer car service when I ran out of water to clear my murky windscreen because they hadn’t checked this (after ticking the checklist). I couldn’t see well enough through my grey and smeared screen and was very scared. I always check now.

9. Keep your lights clean – visibility again. Be sure to wipe them over after a dirty weather day’s driving. This makes a big difference to you and others.

10. Do you know how and when to use your foglights? Or when not to? Read your car handbook to be sure. Drivers using fog lights inappropriately can blind other drivers and of course if you don’t know how to use them you aren’t making the most of your visibility options.

11. Antifreeze levels – don’t neglect your engine during the winter. If it freezes outside that’s OK but you don’t want the water inside your engine to expand and crack your engine (usually terminal ie very expensive…) NB: Antifreeze also stops your engine from rusting inside aka a corrosion inhibitor so, despite its name, you need it all year round really…

12. Is your battery playing up? If it is you can rely on it to let you down when you need it most. Best to buy a new one.
NB: Club members save 15% off National Tyres & Autocare battery prices.

13. Look out for local garages offering a winter check – they’ll normally charge for this but it’ll save your time which should be costed into the formula. Start with a FOXY Lady Approved garage

14. Consider getting your windscreen coated with Duxback to keep it clean. This is the stuff used by aircraft because, when you think of it, they don’t use windscreen wipers but pilots need a clear screen just the same.
NB: Special Duxback offer coming in January.

15. We all know to cut back our speed but few of us realise it takes us up to ten times longer to stop on icy roads. So lengthen the gap between you and others. In floods, you could aquaplane ie lose road grip altogether in whci case you should take your foot off the accelerator and don’t brake hard – just let the car slow down in the hope you have the space to do this…

16. When it’s party time, just say ‘no’ to alcohol unless it’s someone else’s time to drive. Just one drink could affect your driving ability and you’d never forgive yourself if you caused an accident affecting others (at any time of the year…).

Stay safe by being ultra cautious whenever it’s cold, wet, icy or snowy. If you don’t have to drive or travel, just don’t.


Wise up with winter coming says Monaco VW

Monaco Entrance landscapeTracing back to its business origins in 1954 Monaco VW is not only the oldest VW garage on the UK network but we think it’s one of London’s most beautiful too.

And a member of FOXY’s female friendly car dealer network to boot!

We all know that with age comes wisdom of course which is why Monaco VW knows to offer its customers a comprehensive Winter Car Care Check at this time of year.

Theirs costs £29.99 and includes a technical inspection of tyres, battery, brakes, lights and fluid levels. If repairs are needed, Monaco technicians are on hand to assist and any looming concerns will be noted for future attention as part of Monaco’s unique vehicle management service.

Recent figures from the Department for Transport showed that treacherous winter conditions caused over 6,000 road incidents last year. With that in mind Monaco VW is also recommending VW-approved snow chains and snow socks to help drivers keep a tighter grip on the road in snowy and icy conditions. For those new to chains and “socks” a full demonstration will be provided by Monaco VW’s friendly team.

“Our Winter Vehicle Check gives drivers the confidence that they’re not going to feel unprepared when the inevitable hard frosts and poor weather affects the capital over the next few months” said Dealer Principal Anthony Barrell.

We’re happy to promote this for Monaco VW as this is a responsible thing to do at this time of year. We’d also like to remind members that many of our FOXY Lady Approved garages offer a similar service, often free but requiring payment for any expensive engine oil top ups that are usually involved.

NB: This year, all their female customers who provide feedback following a recent visit to Monaco VW will be offered a gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club worth £23. What’s not to like?

Driving advice come high winds, floods and whatever next…

Not recommended, unless you're road testing a Range Rover as we were at the time!
Not recommended, unless you’re road testing a Range Rover as we were at the time!
Lately it seems as if everywhere across England has been experiencing unusually severe weather conditions.

From 80 mph winds to unexpected floods, the recent winter weather has been making it particularly challenging for drivers.

Inevitably the winter weather can also lead to more accidents on the road which is a worrying thought. Just to give you an idea of the scale of things – in 2012 there were 4,584 road accidents, with 544 of these resulting in serious injuries and 34 deaths.

We all want to stay as safe as possible so I thought I’d compile a few pointers for your peace of mind when driving on winter roads.

Preparing your vehicle

As we know, England has unpredictable weather all through the year. Therefore, it is vital you carry out full checks on your car regularly. Most garages (especially FOXY Lady Approved ones) will offer you a free car safety check. Here are some of the main things you should be doing and considering.

+ Are your lights clean and working?
+ Is your battery fully charged?
+ Make sure your Windscreen/wiper blades/other windows are clean/doing their job
+ Check your tyre condition, depth and pressure
+ Stocking up on de-icer
+ Testing your brakes
+ Topping up your emergency kit
+ Winter tyres??

Getting a grip

The grip on your tyres is particularly important when it comes to driving on wet, slippery and snowy roads. This is because summer tyres ie normal tyres harden up when temperatures drop, which can lead to the tyre losing grip. As you can imagine something that is hard doesn’t have as much spread or grip, especially on a slippery surface.

I’d suggest that it’s the right choice of tyres and their condition, coupled with inappropriate speed, could be why many people are involved in accidents during the winter months. I certainly wish more women knew about the benefits of winter tyres which is why I’m writing this blog!

I didn’t until I came to work in the tyre industry but once I knew how important they are, I was really surprised that so few of us use them. In many places across Europe, it’s against the law to not switch to the correct tyres.

Driving during floods

When the weather is very severe, the best advice I can give is to stay indoors! But as we all know, sometimes we have to drive and floods can happen unexpectedly and not just in winter months. Sometimes you mightn’t get advance knowledge… so you need to know how to tackle them and whether to drive through them, to keep you safe and stop you getting overly stressed if this happens.

First of all, always look ahead when you’re driving so you can be prepared. If you can see that an area is flooded, it may be wise to avoid it. How can you tell if the area is flooded? Check for signs to see how high the water has risen; if it’s halfway up your tyre then it might be too late ie best not to drive through it. For example, when the water is more than 15cm it could float the car.

If you’re in your car and you can see the road is flooded ahead, slow down to assess the situation. Look around for a gate or a wall and judge where the water is. If you decide to drive through it, drive slowly, carefully and remember, don’t let other motorists force you to do anything you think is unwise. Where in doubt, pull over and let someone else go first! And don’t panic…

Whatever else, when you’re at the wheel you have your safety (and that of your passengers, other car passengers and even pedestrians) in YOUR hands. Always safety first ladies!

guestblogThis is a guest blog written by Hannah Moore on behalf of Click On Tyres in Shipley. The business is a FOXY Lady Approved garage meaning it has signed a commitment to ‘never overcharge, patronise or sell women anything they don’t need’ which is a considerable reassurance in a sector of the motor industry with a reputation for doing precisely this.

Click On Tyres is also offering local ladies in Shipley a special gift membership of FOXY Lady Drivers Club, worth £23. Speak to Hannah to organise yours, whilst the offer still stands. Terms apply etc.

How to prepare your car for the winter months

guestblogIt’s November and to date we’ve been relatively lucky in terms of the cold weather we know is coming soon. So there’s no excuse for having a poorly prepared car come the certain onslaught of winter. The best time to prep your car for winter is now, of course, not when the first snow falls. You certainly don’t want to find yourself locked out of your car or broken down in the cold.

Here are some essential winter car preparation tips compiled for us here by CompareTheMarket.com.

Check Your Tyres

compressor testWhen winter approaches car owners should think first about their tyres.

If your treads are worn or pressures are too high or low, this could spell disaster. Look at your tyre treads. Are the grooves clearly visible? Whilst the legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6 mm they really should be closer to 3 mm deep to cater for the demands of snow driving.

Most tyres these days are multi-seasonal and can handle light snowfall. If you live in a heavy snowfall area or are surrounded by hills, however, you should consider winter specific snow treads.

Remember, snow chains are legal only on snow covered UK roads, but on tarmac the chains must be removed. Finally, throughout winter you should keep a close eye on your tyre pressures to maintain maximum traction.

Electrical System Check

In order to start your car in the winter you will need a strong battery. If you current battery is over four years old you might want to think about replacing it before the really cold months arrive. The least you should do is take it to an electrician to have the charge checked. You also should make sure the cable connections are clean. You might find corrosion and build up which will interfere with starting. Carefully disconnect the cables and clean all contact points with steel wool.

Lights are also part of the electric system of course. Make sure all headlamps and high-beams are in proper working order. Finally, check the brake lights and turn signals. You must make certain you can see and be seen in poor visibility and snowy weather.

Lock Check

Frozen car locks might be one of the most frustrating winter experiences. You can avoid this by properly lubricating your locks. Make sure you use a water repelling lubricant such as WD 40 Specialist, and oil all hinges and hooks. Open and close your doors several times to let the lubrication work itself in; then wipe clean with a dry rag. It might be a good idea to pick up a can of de-icer spray but don’t stow it in your car! If your locks freeze up how are you going to get the de-icer out?

It’s a surprisingly easy mistake to make. Be sure to leave the de-icer on a shelf at home.

Fluids Check

Your antifreeze levels must be kept optimal throughout the winter months. A frozen radiator can be an extremely expensive disaster. Also monitor your oil levels and change the oil exactly as indicated by your car owner´s manual. The windscreen wiper fluid reservoir is also important to keep filled as you will use more wiper fluid during dirty driving conditions.

Visit Your Mechanic

Take your car to a mechanic to have your brakes checked. Worn down brake pads cannot stop your car well when the weather turns wet and cold. You should also have all your belts checked for wear and replace as needed. A broken fan-belt in a blizzard is not fun. Make sure you use a garage that operates to a Trading Standards Institute Approved Code of Practice scheme or a local mechanic that is Automotive Technician Accredited (ATA).

Car insurance

On top of preparing your vehicle and any supplies you might need, as well as having the car checked over by an expert, you should make sure that you’ve got adequate insurance cover in case of breakdown or other accidents that may be more of a risk when the weather gets cold and driving conditions deteriorate. You can use a comparison website to see who can offer the best deal for the type of cover you need.

Winter Emergency Kit

No matter how well your car is tuned, the unexpected can happen. During the winter you should always make sure you have a good charge on your mobile phone before heading out in bad weather.

Here are some additional items you should consider stowing in the boot:

Spare hat and gloves
Small or collapsible snow shovel
Road flares or reflective triangles

Winter is coming fast, so be prepared. Follow these tips and you will be ready for any situation the weather throws at you.

Perhaps, when the weather is really bad, the best advice is to simply stay home by the fire with the ones you care for.

Always look on the bright side…

clocks-go-backI live with a SAD sufferer and for whom the October clock change means the onslaught of winter and a good reason for his evident trials and tribulation.

After a summer of laid back and devil may care attitude he has his first cold this weekend and, as I see it, this is more to do with his mind than any truly congested head.

Not that I’m unsympathetic of course…

Which is why I identified with the latest wisdom from the IAM, coinciding with the clocks going back this weekend. Yes we get an extra hour in bed but thereafter this affects journeys to and from work and probably the morning school run as well. Which means we should remember the following things we can do to make sure our car(s) are as well prepared as possible for this in advance.

* To improve your view as far as possible, keep your lights and windscreen clean. It’s easy to forget the inside of the windows, but keeping them clean helps prevent them from misting-up.

* Use main beam on a dark unlit road, but when other drivers or riders are approaching make sure you dip your lights to avoid dazzling the oncoming road users.

* Making sure you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear still applies in the dark.

* Look at how the traffic ahead behaves for clues to possible problems you can’t see yet – the way other lights behave can tell you a lot.

* Use the headlights of the car you are following to help you see further ahead.

* Don’t look at any lights themselves, but at what they show – so you can make use of more of the light there is from any source, without losing your “night vision” any more than you have to.

* Use the reflective road signs and lines to help you see where the road goes and where there could be particular problems.

* If an approaching car forgets to dip its lights, look beyond the lights to their left to avoid being dazzled as much.

* If it’s gloomy in the morning, don’t forget to put your lights on then too.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “The risk of collisions increases in the dark as visibility is reduced. In poor weather remember that you still need to see things like large pools of water or fallen trees in the dark – so adjust your driving to suit all the conditions combined.”

I’d add: “Check your tyres more regularly than ever and if you’re a Club member take advantage of our free seasonal car checks; they’ll make sure your tyres, lights, antifreeze and battery are up to the winter challenge ahead.”