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How to Avoid a Frosty Welcome

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Weather conditions have recently turned frosty, leaving motorists searching for their ice scrapers. The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has issued a pre-winter checklist for drivers seeking to avoid a frosty welcome:

> Prepare the vehicle for winter early. In autumn have the anti freeze checked, replace damaged wiper blades, stock up on de-icer, add a frost inhibitor to the screen wash and buy a window scraper and two cloths: one to clear condensation and dirt from the inside windows and one to clean lights and exterior windows

> Check that the windscreen wipers are off when leaving the vehicle the night before to avoid damaging the wiper motor and blades when the engine is started the next day

> Use external temperature gauges, if the vehicle has them. An indicated temperature of 3 degrees centigrade means that extremely slippery conditions are possible

> Remember that ice on the windscreen could mean ice on the carriageway at some points, especially side roads

> Observe other road users reactions to conditions ahead as a pre-warning of what is to come

Stopping distances will increase in frosty or wet weather. Stay focused, look further ahead than usual and allow for the extra time needed to stop by increasing the gap ahead.

- Where the road surface is likely to be slippery, stay in the highest gear possible to minimise the risk of wheel spin. Consider setting off in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating very gently.

- If the vehicles front end begins to lose grip, a front wheel skid will begin. Reduce acceleration, consider disengaging the clutch and steer smoothly. If the vehicle goes into a rear wheel skid, lift off the accelerator, consider de-clutching and steer into the skid.

- Always ensure windows, lights and mirrors are clear of dirt and ice before setting off.