Driving on snow and ice is enough to send a chill down the spine of even the most seasoned motorist. When conditions are extremely bad, it’s wise to ask yourself if the journey you’re about to make is really necessary. If you really must travel then do so with the utmost care.
One of the first things to consider is the time factor. If you have an appointment to keep then you must give yourself more time by setting off earlier than normal. If you make the mistake of trying to drive at normal speeds then you probably wouldn’t arrive at all; at least not with your vehicle intact!
Apart from needing more time for the journey itself, you’ll also need extra time to prepare the car. If it’s covered in ice or snow you must clear this before you can even attempt setting off. You need to scrape ice away from all windows, the windscreen in particular will benefit from a spraying of de-icer as this will prevent frost from re-forming on the glass again as you begin to drive away, this can otherwise happen in seconds on a very cold morning.
If your car is covered in snow, then again this must be cleared from all windows; and cleared thoroughly. Many times have I witnessed people driving along with only just enough snow removed to enable them to peer through a small gap in the windscreen. This is dangerous and illegal; you MUST make sure that you have a clear view!
You should also remove any snow from the roof and bonnet of the car. Acceleration, braking and wind can easily dislodge melting snow and you may suddenly find yourself unable to see when it flies onto the windscreen.
Also, make sure your others can see your lights properly by brushing away any snow that may cover them.
Warming the Engine
The quickest way of warming an engine is to start it and drive away as soon as possible once you have a clear view. There are times though when unfortunately you can’t set off immediately.
When the frost bites, then unless your car is under the protection of a relatively warm garage it will suffer from condensation. With no heat available from the blowers this can be very difficult to clear.
The rear window should be no problem as all modern cars have built-in heating elements, but you should not attempt to drive until you can see clearly, especially if there’s bright sunshine which can make it impossible to see through a misted window.
A wash leather will help in removing some of the misting; and an open window will cut down on the amount of your breath which condenses on the glass. But the only sure way of ensuring proper visibility is to run the engine for just as long as you need to get enough warmth from the heater to clear the screen.