With the arrival of winter, we prepare ourselves for the difficult driving conditions that it brings. Rain and snow in particular are among the worst enemies and give rise to really dangerous situations; so let’s see the tips for driving safely in rain and snow.
Driving conditions become much more difficult when under snow and ice than they are. In these situations, in general, the safety distance increases significantly, the grip of the tires is less, aquaplaning phenomena are frequent and the car could skid easily.
Faced with all these dangers, given the poor grip between the road surface and the car tires, there are some things to remember when driving. First of all, gentle driving is essential for safe driving . This means that you have to avoid hard braking and accelerated shots. Abrupt braking will cause the tires to lose ardor, so you have to brake progressively, ditto for accelerating; try to be as constant as possible and not to press too hard on the pedal.
Also remember that driver assistance systems lose efficiency. For example, ABS will not be so useful in not skidding the tires precisely because of the wet.
Also remember to adjust the steering angle well. Especially if you have worn tires, taking corners as usual could be very different and thus cause you to skid.
Finally, in the rain or heavy snow there is the danger of reduced visibility . Torrential rain will not make you see at a long distance so you too will be less visible to other drivers, so moderate your speed and turn on the low beam (and fog lights if necessary) even during the day, in case of heavy rain.
When you hit the road in adverse conditions of rain and snow, it is essential to have the right tires to handle these situations. There are several things to check with your tires to make sure they are suitable for driving in cold periods.
If you have just bought a new set of tires for your car and are sure they are suitable, remember that immaculate tires do not immediately start in ideal conditions for driving on the road. In fact, the tire needs more than a hundred kilometers to ‘take the shape’, suitable for the wheel in which it is inserted and to support the weight of the car on it.
Secondly, the tires must be in good condition. The law states that once the tread has exceeded the minimum threshold of 1.6 mm it is no longer approved for use on the road. you can carry out the check yourself using a measuring instrument that you can buy in any specialized shop for a few tens of euros. Even if the tires have not reached the minimum tread threshold, change them when possible, because a worn wheel guarantees up to a maximum of 70% of grip, a very important difference, especially in the rain.
Finally, to drive on the snow, from 15 November to 15 April, Italian law establishes that on board you must have chains or winter tires, which have a softer mixture to adapt more quickly to cold road conditions. Not sure if your tire is suitable? On the tire itself it will bear the words ‘M + S’ (Mud + Snow, Mud + Snow).
Chains on board
Even if you have winter tires it does not mean that you are equipped to drive on snow, far from it. You are undoubtedly in accordance with the law and can deal with most situations, however always take care to have snow chains or snow towels on board. The chains can be traditional or spider , depending on the needs and the budget and guarantee the best result and the highest efficiency on the snow. Also, if you hardly ever get them fitted, don’t wait until the last moment to install them on your car, but do some assembly tests before it gets cold, so you can be sure if the need arises.
In addition to snow chains, as mentioned, you can opt for the cheapest snow towels. These are very easy to apply cloth covers that can be extremely useful if you come across fresh snow. However, they are also much less resistant, so once they come out of fresh snow they must be removed because they will tear in contact with the asphalt. The chains, on the other hand, can resist a few more kilometers if they end up on the asphalt free of snow.
What to keep under control
Beyond the tires and chains, the other parts of the car are also important when driving in rain and snow. Before facing the winter season, therefore, always be aware of checking some important elements that in different situations can make the difference.
First of all check the battery. Batteries, special, older ones or on older cars, can be damaged in contact with low temperatures. In fact, the cold can cause the battery charge to drop to zero, so there is a danger that the car will not restart after a stop.
The danger of a dead battery mainly affects all vehicles that are forced to spend the whole night outside in the cold, therefore (as far as possible), park them overnight in a covered garage. Alternatively, you can cover the vehicle with thermal sheets affixed to it during the night to avoid problems.
Another thing to check is the brakes . The brakes are obviously very important when driving and become even more so in adverse conditions of rain and snow. The brakes must therefore always be efficient, check the wear of the pads and discs.
The cold is also one of the deadly enemies of wiper blades . The brushes are in fact the part of the car most sensitive to cold and the first that freezes. Needless to say, how much of the icy brushes are useless, and they could also break, putting you in serious trouble driving in the rain.
Finally, check the condition of the car’s fluids , i.e. coolant, oil, etc. that could freeze in the cold. There are special antifreeze liquids to be placed in the special trays to prevent freezing.