Yes, I missed last month’s Traction, the second time in 19 years. Looks like I’m making a habit of it. No excuses, I thought I had sent it out but it must have got lost in the post, along with what is left of my white hair.
Winter has arrived with a vengeance. Snow on the Drakensberg all the way from the Eastern Cape to Natal, see pictures taken at top of Sani. Last month we covered winter diesel and anti-freeze. This month let’s look at driving in these snowy and icy conditions. Be honest now, how many of you stop at the top of Sani, it’s always on to Black Mountain and even beyond. Yes, it’s tarred all the way, but change your driving habits to suit the snowy and icy conditions
You know your 4×4 will have a lot more success when driving on snowy roads compared to normal 2×4 vehicles. This doesn’t mean though that you have nothing to do on your part to ensure that your 4×4 is always safe and trouble-free when driving during the winter.
Here are some important tips that you should remember before you use your 4×4 for winter driving.
- Check All Your Tires – Tires are really important whenever you are driving a vehicle and it is even more important when driving your 4×4 in winter. Make sure all your tires are in good conditions before driving in the snowy roads.
- Check Your Tire Treads – Make sure that your tires still have enough tread on them so that you will not have any issues with traction and slipping on icy roads.
- Have the Recommended Tire Pressure – Another important tire-related tip is to make sure your tires have the recommended amount of pressure when driving on slippery roads so that you will have the maximum amount of traction needed for a safe trip.
- If possible fit Snow Tires (M&S) – snow tires are even better than regular tires when driving on snowy roads as the former is specifically made for these conditions.
- Ensure Your Brakes are Working Properly – Aside from tires, another very important aspect of your vehicle that you should check up on is your brakes. Good brakes are essential when driving on slippery and icy roads during the winter to avoid you losing control of your vehicle and getting into accidents. Always ensure your brakes are working properly.
- Replace Old Wiper Blades – When driving in winter, you don’t only have to contend with the slippery road, you would also need to deal with the falling snow, sleet and rain which could affect your vision. One way to solve this issue is replacing wiper blades which are more than 6 months old to make sure that you will have the proper visibility when driving.
- I know we have already covered this but check the Antifreeze in your radiator – Having the proper proportion of antifreeze and water in your radiator is important to avoid the water in your radiator from freezing during the winter. The normal ratio of antifreeze to water is 50/50 but some adjustments may need to be made depending on the conditions and the temperature in your area to provide maximum protection for your vehicle. (Don’t use a straight anti-freeze mixture, IT WILL NOT WORK.
- Drive Slowly and Carefully on Curves – Curves and are really tricky when it comes to driving in the winter. If you are not careful you could find yourself colliding with another vehicle or an obstruction in the road. Whenever you are driving in the winter, make sure that you don’t drive too fast on curves.
- Avoid Sharp Turns – Just like when driving fast on curves, making sharp turns can end up causing you to lose control of your vehicle. Always see to it that you avoid sharp turns to ensure that you always have proper control.
- Check the Components of Your 4WD – Having 4WD is really a big advantage when you are driving on snowy roads as it will give you more stability and control. That said, you must ensure that your 4WD is working properly before setting out and driving in the winter. Check all the components of your 4WD, particularly the transfer lever, push button engagement, and others to confirm that the entire system is good to go.
- Allow More Stopping Distance – Whenever you are driving on snowy roads, the ice and snow can cause your vehicle to slip and skid even if you are already trying to stop. That’s why you must always have more stopping distance when driving in these conditions as slick surfaces can make the simple tasks like stopping a lot more tricky.
“Motor Mouth” reminding you that alcohol and water don’t mix, take a boring dedicated driver along and enjoy your Gluchwein at Sani Top. Hopefully the tips above will guide you on how to prepare your 4×4 and to drive safely during the coming season.