Preparing For Winter Part 2

Wednesday, 31. December 2014

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

Here is part 2 of my safety tips as we count down to winter. I mentioned in my last list of tips the importance of making sure that your screen is clear, not only outside but inside. Clean the inside of your screen regularly with anti mist cleaner.

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My experience is that this still won’t stop the screen from misting up but it makes them clear quicker when you turn on the demister. Remember that in the rain stopping distance is doubled so allow plenty of space between you and the car in front. It is a legal requirement to switch on your headlights (if not automatic) when visibility is less than 100 metres.

Another recommendation is not to use cruise control when driving in the wet. Also if you break down in heavy rain don’t leave your bonnet open, some older drivers and truck drivers would do this to indicate that the vehicle had broken down but this will allow the electrics to get wet and make the job of the recovery man or woman much harder.

For some strange reason Brits don’t understand the full dangers of floods, maybe because it is rare for us to experience really heavy flooding (last year being an exception) so we tend to be somewhat glib. The fact is that a massive 32% of all flood related deaths are by drowning in a vehicle.

Here are some more frightening facts to remember the next time a local stream or small river overflows its banks and you feel safe to drive through it. Two feet of standing water is enough to float a car whilst 12” of water flowing at 6mph is also enough to float an average family car. And if you feel the need to drive through a flood splashing water up into the engine compartment, an egg cup full of water in the combustion chamber can wreck an engine.

OK, onto some water tips. Only drive a car through water that you know isn’t too deep, by that I mean halfway up the wheels. Don’t drive through fast moving water, even if the water is just a small stream. Drive on the highest section of the road, check the camber, this is normally the middle of the road.

If your car is a manual keep the revs high by slipping the clutch whilst in water, it is important to keep your engine running. In deep water you should keep your foot on the accelerator as water will travel up the exhaust pipe if you let the revs drop. In a flood take it in turns if you meet oncoming traffic. Allow them to pass first keeping to the highest part of the road.

Make sure that you test your brakes when you leave the water. Finally in this section I must clear up a misconception regarding SUV’s or commonly known as 4WD cars. They are not amphibious vehicles. They are not safer than a normal saloon car, they won’t offer more protection if you are involved in a crash and they certainly won’t fare any better than any other car if you are driving through a flood.

Last year the AA answered calls from 4,000 motorists who had come to grief in floods. Many had driven through water only to get the car die on them when they drove out with 1,000 still stuck in the middle of the water. The AA has a specialist flood rescue team, known as AA SORT (Special Operations Response Team). They are already on alert as we start to move through autumn to winter.

One of the warnings from the AA, other than don’t believe your SUV is a boat, is don’t ignore statutory ‘Road Closed’ signs. They are there for a reason and certainly avoid driving through anything more than a puddle. By ignoring road closed warnings you could put your insurance at risk.

Water can write off cars or severely damage engines but if you ignored a warning saying that a road was closed the insurer could avoid paying out on a claim. So greater care is needed and take no risks. Water can be a killer. More next time so watch this space. By Graham Hill

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