Quentin Cholmondeley-Silverstoneâ€™s Guide To Winter Motoring, Part 1
14th Jan 2014
Felicitations, dear friends! One hopes the winter season so far is treating you well.
The purpose of this missive, which is to be the first in a series, is to aid your good selves in preparing yourselves for taking a spin in the upcoming inclement weather without taking a spin, as it were!
I shall be dividing my advice into two sections, the first of which is Part One: Preparing Oneself for The Journey.
Before one even thinks about the logistics involved in getting to one’s destination, one must consider whether or not the journey is necessary. If one just wishes to pop down to the shops for a loaf of bread and a pint of milk, really one should just put on a stout pair of walking shoes and use “Shanks’ pony”.
If one really must travel, turn on your wireless and pay careful attention to both local and national weather forecasts, concentrating on the areas you will be travelling through. You may also use more new-fangled sources of information such as the television and the internet. Also check these sources of information regularly as conditions can change at the drop of a hat.
Make sure, before you set off, that someone knows where you are going and when you expect to arrive, so they can raise the alarm if one gets into trouble. It is also worth your while planning alternative routes to one’s destination, especially if one is travelling a long distance. It is possible that some roads, such as the Snake Pass or the A9 around Perth.
In terms of preparing one’s motor car, one should ensure that the fuel tank is full, the windows and mirrors are completely clear of snow. One is not in command of a Crusader Mk 2 at the Battle Of El Alamein, after all, so driving looking through a small aperture in the snow is absolutely beyond the pale! One should also set one’s heaters and vents blowing onto the windscreen to help keep it clear. If one drives a motor car with heated windscreens, they should be switched on. Once they are clear, though, it is always worth your while turning them off to preserve the battery. The dear old thing will be under a lot of strain during the winter, so extra stress it not what it needs!
All lights on your motor car should also be clear, clean and in full working order. Visibility on the road may well be at a premium, so one should be fully and completely prepared. One should also make sure one’s windscreen is in good order. Chips or cracks do need to be repaired as quickly as is humanly possible, as one such imperfection can go from something small to a spider-webbed windscreen with great alacrity! One should also ensure one’s windscreen wiper blades are in good order, the washer jets are clear and the reservoir is topped up to the brim with a 50/50 solution of screenwash and water. A weaker solution may leave smears or may even freeze, obscuring vision.
Tyres should also be checked. They must be correctly pressurised and really have at least 3mm of tread depth. Dropping the tyre pressure to increase grip does not work and will make one’s motor car unstable. Preferably, one should really switch from all-weather to winter tyres. These chaps have more grip thanks to being made of a softer compound and sporting a blocky tread pattern that bites into the snow.
As for preparing oneself, one should ensure one has an emergency kit, including a full charged mobile telephone with credit, if you are a pay-as-you-go customer, extra warm clothes, stout boots, a torch, rations and a shovel (a word to the wise: take a sojourn to your local military surplus emporium – the type of materiel one needs will be in plentiful supply, including such things as folding shovels, military issue footwear and clothing for all conditions – my own personal recommendations would be Russian or former East German furry hats and Polish paratrooper boots!) One should also have about one’s person a cigarette lighter. If one’s automatic central locking isn’t receiving and one must resort to using the key, warming the aforementioned key with a lighter is the best course of action. Breathing into the lock is a foolish thing to do, as when the water in the breath freezes, the situation is worse than before!
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