This winter is threatening to be more severe than in previous years, so it’s worth being prepared. Apart from the obvious of making sure your can is fully serviced and up-together, you can still come unstuck if you don’t follow these simple rules:
DO’S & DON’TS:
- DO make sure you have sufficient washer fluid and make sure the concentration is at least 15%, otherwise, the fluid may well freeze.
- DON’T operate the washers if the fluid is frozen, otherwise, you’ll very quickly burn the motor out, if it can’t turn freely.
- DON’T operate the wipers if the screen is frozen, as you’ll likely rip the rubbers if the blades are frozen to the screen. Also, don’t use the wipers to clear a heavy snowfall as the weight of snow will put massive pressure on the wiper motor and linkage – and you’ll most likely bend the wiper arms since wiper motors have considerable torque.
- Can you use hot water to clear your screen of ice? YES YOU CAN – BUT NOT OUT OF THE KETTLE! It’s perfectly safe to use water from the hot tap, but no hotter than your hand can stand; I do it every winter and I’ve not cracked a screen in 20 years. Laminated glass will stand hand-hot water no problem. Pour from a jug across the top of the screen and allow it to run down until all the ice has cleared. NOW you can use your wipers.
- The Tail-Gate wiper: Oh boy! THE MOST abused piece of equipment on any car. How many times have I seen the poor old tailgate wiper scraping its way across a dry screen, long after the rain has stopped? One Discovery went all the way from the M5 to the Lake District wiping a dry screen – 200 miles! Look guys and gals, you only need to wipe the rear now and again, because windscreen glass is actually quite soft and scratches easily – and wiping a dry screen with no water to lubricate its travel, the motor gets hot and the linkage rapidly wears. LOOK IN THR MIRROR once in the while and TURN IT OFF.
The basic truth is: normal summer tyres are simply no good in snow, but if you don’t want to go to the fag of fitting a set of winter tyres, there are some cheap alternatives which will get you home when everyone else is stuck. I say forget chains unless you:
- Do a lot of winter driving in mountainous regions (Scotland, Lakes, Snowdonia or the Alps), and
- Are familiar with fitting and adjusting them, particularly when it’s night-time and snowing hard
Now there is a relatively simple solution: Very large re-useable ‘Snow ‘Zip Ties’, usually bright orange – and the best bit is: you can buy a set on-line for about a tenner. You don’t have to be ‘Brain of Britain’ to fit them; (if you can put a zip-tie together, you’re halfway there), but you do have to grovel a bit. BUT – they do work surprisingly well and WILL get you out of trouble. Don’t forget to remove them once the snow starts to melt, otherwise, they’ll wear out quite quickly.