Winter Motoring Tips

Yes, although we’re nearing the end of winter, it doesn’t really feel like the cold is letting up, does it?

Use the following tips as a guide to handling your car better during the tail-end of winter.

  • Cars are vulnerable to cold. If you have a small crack in your windscreen, the contraction of the car body caused by the cold could turn the tiny crack into a much more serious problem.

    Windscreen chip repairs should be covered by your vehicle insurer and only undertaken by the service provider your insurer has allocated. Remember, leaving windscreen chips and cracks to spread not only puts you and your passengers at risk, but also reduces the chance of cost-effective repairs, forcing you to replace the entire windscreen at a much greater cost.
  • Avoid ice from forming on your windscreen - for the same reason as the tip above. To avoid this, keep the car parked under cover. If the vehicle must stay in the open, put sheets of newspaper across the screen, secured by the wipers.

    Alternatively, if ice has formed, start the wipers and pour slightly warmed water on the screen. The wipers will complete the job. When using your heater, keep the temperature low so that the windscreen can warm up slowly.
  • Batteries need more current to start during winter. If you notice that your car’s headlights are dim, your car’s battery might be nearing the end of its life. Check your battery fluid levels and get the voltage checked by a professional to avoid becoming stranded later.
  • Check the tread on your tyres. Icy roads may be rare in South Africa, but it pays to ensure that if you have to brake suddenly that the tyres will grip. It’s always a good idea to drive with safe tyres, regardless of the season.
  • Remember that the cold can result in misty conditions in some areas. Compensate for poor visibility by reducing your driving speed. Mist reflects light and reduces visibility; avoid switching your headlights to ‘bright’, turn on your fog lights instead.
  • If the windscreen mists up while you are driving, use your car’s heater to defog. Hot and cold air combine and the fog on your windscreen will clear in a flash. However, avoid using the heater for long periods; the longer the heater is on, the more likely it is that drowsiness will set in and your concentration and driving skills will suffer.

    Knowing what a windscreen replacement will cost, even if you are only paying the excess, and that you have roadside assistance or a battery check service included, can make all the difference to winter motoring. Chat to your insurer to make sure your car insurance meets your expectations!  

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