Should I drive differently in winter? 6 tips to get ready for winter driving

Winter is here, unfortunately bringing with it darker days, slippery roads and icy windscreens. Kiwi roads are often challenging at the best of times, but these factors just make it even tougher. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving a new Audi or an old Honda, anyone can be caught out. Here are 6 tips to consider when tackling the winter in your car:

1. Check your car’s safe to be on the road

First and foremost, you need to check your equipment. A few basic checks on your car will go along way to keeping you safe:

  • Tyres – If they are looking bald, either all over, or on either edge, it could be time for some new ones.
  • Wiper Blades – Vision is crucial. If they don’t seem to wipe away all the water, grab a pair of new ones. They’re cheap and can be picked up from your local Repco or Super Cheap Auto, then replaced yourself.
  • Fog Lights – If your car has them, learn where to turn them on (I can never seem to find mine when I need them!)
  • Heater – Wouldn’t want anyone to catch a cold!

2. Check the road conditions/open status 

For a longer trip, you can jump onto NZTA’s website to see if there are any issues with the roads you are planning to travel on. This could be landslides, or snow and ice, that result in a closure.

3. Keep your lights on

With over 70% of cars produced being greyscale (white, black, grey, silver) it can be pretty hard to see oncoming or passing traffic against the road and rain. Keeping your lights on, during the day and night, can ensure that you’re seen. Just remember  to turn them off at the end of your trip!

4. Give a longer following distance

It’s not rocket science that it’s harder to stop in the wet. Make sure you allow for that incase you suddenly need to hit the brakes. Common rule of thumb is about 4 seconds between vehicles in the wet. Count it out next time you’re behind the wheel.

5. Be gentle with your movements

Rapid movements can quickly make a car lose traction. When taking off from a stand still, heading round corners and braking, be sure to use smooth pressure on both the pedals and the steering wheel.

6. Look out for snow and ice

If you don’t have a 4wd, it’s probably not worth venturing out in the snow. However, if you do need to, keep your eyes peeled for black ice. It has a shiny reflection that looks like the road is wet. Apply the same smooth movements. 

If you do all this, you should be able to get to the mountain, into the city or wherever else you’re heading safe and sound!