12 winter car tricks for drivers
Winter — it's surely the worst time of the year for drivers. Even though we know it's on its way, some drivers are always left totally unprepared when colder weather rolls in.
That's why we've listed some of the most important tips and tricks to ensure a stress-free time behind the wheel this winter...
1. Windows fogged up from the inside
This is a daily issue for most drivers during the winter. As soon as you get into the car, your windows are fogged up or start to become that way. The most reliable solution to this problem is switching on the air conditioning. If your car doesn't have air con, you can also use absorbent sponges or cloths to wipe away any condensation.
If you want to stop the windows from steaming up in the first place, spread some shaving foam on the glass and leave it sit for several moments. Afterward, you can wipe away the foam with a dry cloth. This should have the same effect as an anti-fog spray.
You can also prevent fogged up windows by filling a stocking with cat litter, tying it up, and leaving it in your car overnight. Within a few hours, the cat litter slowly absorbs all the moisture in the air.
2. Iced up keyholes, door handles, and doors
If the keyhole is iced up, use a little hand sanitizer on the key and hole. The alcohol contained in the hand sanitizer also prevents the doors and handles from getting iced up.
You can also use WD-40 on the door lock and handle to stop them from becoming iced up. It keeps moisture off the surfaces and prevents ice from forming.
3. Problems when pulling away
In general, you should pull away a little more "sensitively" and give it some more gas when the road surface is slippery. It's best to start in second gear and change up a gear quickly to prevent the wheels from spinning.
4. Stuck in the snow
When you're stuck in snow, first give the "rocking method" a try. To do so, carefully try to pull away in a forward gear until the wheels start to spin. Then drop the clutch and let the vehicle roll backward while you engage reverse gear and carefully try to pull away. Repeat this process until you have "rocked" your car out from the snow.
Another trick is using floor mats and cat litter. When the ground is too slippery for the tires, place floor mats in front of or behind the tires and sprinkle on some cat litter.
Tip: It's best to have a small shovel and cat litter in your car with you at all times during the colder months.
5. Iced up windshield wipers
Socks aren't just useful on your feet when the temperature starts to drop. When there's a chance of it being frosty overnight, simply roll a sock over each windshield wiper. This will stop them from freezing to the glass if you leave your car parked somewhere for several hours.
6. Ineffective headlamps
It's a problem that you probably wouldn't notice at first, but dirty headlamps can affect how well you see the road ahead. As strange as this may sound, you should regularly polish them with toothpaste. This should help in the short term, at least.
7. Dirty vehicle
It's not just the headlamps that become dirty all too easily in the winter. During the colder months, the vehicle's surfaces collect snow slush and salt. Sadly, there's only one solution — washing the vehicle regularly.
You should regularly go to a car wash and have your vehicle pre-washed to prevent scratches. Don't forget to clean the wheel arches, as the brushes in the car wash can't reach them. It's also important to keep the underside of the car clean and remove any grit salt.
8. Iced up side mirror
Here's a good tip for preventing the side mirror from icing up when your vehicle's parked up for a while. Simply place a plastic bag over the mirror and tie a knot to keep it in place. Resealable plastic bags work just as well.
9. Slippery ice when getting out of the vehicle
When winter's here, it's always good to keep a pair of large socks in the glove compartment. We'd also recommend they be non-slip socks.
If you think the road is going to be slippery, pull the socks over your shoes for the walk to your home. This will provide better grip.
10. Slippery slope
If you're having trouble with driving on icy roads with an incline, you should deactivate your ESP (Electronic Stability Program). When this system is activated, the brakes are automatically applied if there's wheel spin.
If you're stuck in the mountains, you should put as much weight on the drive shaft as possible. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, you should try to load the trunk as much as you can. In the case of front-wheel drive vehicles, one of your passengers should carefully sit on the hood so that there's more pressure on the front axle when you're pulling away.
11. Braking when it's icy
As a general rule for winter driving, it's best to drive slowly and keep as much distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. Experts recommend keeping three times further back than in normal driving conditions.
If possible, it's best to test out how well the brakes react to the road conditions when starting every journey. If you apply the brakes at a low speed, you can determine how much grip there is to the surface of the road and adjust your driving style accordingly.
12. Iced up windshield
This a classic when it comes to what annoys drivers most in the winter.
If you don't have an ice scraper, you can use a spatula from the kitchen instead. A credit card can also work wonders when you're trying to remove ice from the windshield. However, the best solution is to prepare your own de-icing agent. Find out how to do by following these instructions.
You can also prevent the windshield from becoming iced up in the first place by covering it with an old bed sheet overnight. It's best to clamp the bed sheet in place using the the doors so that it doesn't blow away. You can also use the windshield wipers for extra support; this will also prevent the wipers from becoming frozen to the windshield.
We don't recommend using a piece of cardboard to cover the windshield. The material will become soggy and freeze to the windshield.
These great tips will help you get through a winter behind the wheel. In adverse weather conditions, it's best to leave your car at home though, and use public transport instead. As always, drive carefully and stay alert on the road!