Tips on driving and winter care
Weather conditions can change quickly in the UK, and it is important to prepare for more challenging winter weather. Read on for the best winter driving and care tips from Auto Trader.
For truck drivers, especially dealers who need to reach customers in adverse conditions, driving in snow, ice and sleet will be essential. Fortunately, with some preparation and planning, you can make winter driving easier for you and your truck.
Winter essentials you should carry in your truck
If you’re going to be traveling in the snow and ice, whether it’s a few short trips or a longer trip, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to supplies.
Here are some things to put in the back of your truck during the winter:
- Ice scraper and defroster.
- A shovel, just in case you need to get your wheels out of the snow.
- An old rug or piece of cloth you can place under the truck’s wheels to prevent it from sliding if it gets stuck.
- A blanket to wrap yourself in if you have to wait in the truck for help.
- Some cold weather gear in case you have to walk to call for help or find an emergency phone.
- First aid bag. FYI, if you are a dealer, you should already have one in your truck.
- Some food, maybe a warm drink in a flask, just in case you’re stranded for a few hours – there’s nothing worse than being cold and hungry.
- Finally, a flashlight, rechargeable batteries, a mobile phone charger, jump cords, and a tow rope.
Prepare your truck for winter driving
If you will be driving your truck in winter weather, it is important that your truck is safe to drive in those conditions. Here are some tests that should be performed:
- Maintain your tires at the correct pressure because cold weather can cause tires to lose air and make driving in poor conditions more difficult.
- Make sure your tire tread depth is at least 3mm all around the car, this is double the legal minimum and will give you good grip – you might also consider switching to winter tyres.
- Look at the condition of your truck’s battery because low temperatures will affect its ability to hold a charge, especially if it’s already in poor condition. Local garages often run free battery checks in the winter, so take advantage of one if you think your battery may need replacing.
- Stock up on windshield washer fluid containing anti-icing agents and keep a bottle in the back of the truck – grit and fluid on the roads mean your windshield is dirtier.
- Make sure your windshield wipers are ready to be scratched, as they will work harder in the winter.
- Check that your truck’s engine coolant and antifreeze levels are above the vehicle’s mandatory minimums to prevent damage.
- If possible, park your truck under cover to reduce the impact of sleet, ice and snow.
- Bolts and locks can freeze, so get yourself some lock de-icer or (this is a great tip) warm up your key before gently inserting it into the frozen lock.
How to drive a truck in snow and ice
When heading to a job in snowy or icy conditions, the easiest advice is to allow extra time for your journey and stick to main roads that are more likely to be paved – country roads are often overlooked by gravel roads and are often unlit.
So, here are some tips for safe truck driving in the winter:
- Move slowly and safely – gentle maneuvers can prevent wheel slip and keep you in control of your truck.
- Start in second gear – not first – to avoid wheel spin. It’s a good idea to stay in a higher gear while you’re moving to prevent over-revving the engine.
- Stopping distances become longer when weather conditions worsen, so slow down gradually and maintain a safe following distance between you and other vehicles.
- If you start to skid, the best thing you can do is steer into the skid, don’t brake and push the clutch down – hopefully you’ll regain your grip and be able to control the car.
- If you’re driving uphill, choose a gear that allows you to maintain a constant speed and keep going – avoid stopping midway or you’ll slide back down.
- When driving downhill, use a lower gear to give yourself some traction and try not to brake too much to prevent skidding. Use the brakes gently if you have to use them.
What to do if you get stuck in the snow
If your truck gets stuck in the snow, try pulling the wheels out of the snow and putting an old rug under your wheels and then slowly accelerate over it to free yourself. Once you’re free, don’t stop again if you can help it.
If you end up having to wait for rescue, watch your surroundings and stay in your truck if it is safer to do so. The helpful thing is that if you follow the checklist above, you should have everything you need to survive while you wait for help.