When looking at the hazards of summer-time motoring we think of traffic jams and overheating, the air-con failing on the hottest day of the year and car interiors crumbling due to intense heat. However, winter doesn’t do our four-wheeled friends any favours either.
Cold weather means less sunlight, with more people starting and finishing their days in the dark. Reduced visibility, fatigue and animals popping up out of the gloom on rural roads all contribute to hazards that are peculiar to the middle months of the year.
Tyres and coolant are the first things to look. Get your own pressure gauge; preferably one that’s attached to a mini air-compressor. The ones in service stations often aren’t working at all and when they are they are prone to inaccurate readings. Add 3-5 PSI (21-35kPa) and leave it there until the days start to get warm again.
Reason? Vehicle tyres when running on warm surfaces heat the air inside and increase the pressure automatically to keep the tread spread as evenly as possible. On cold days the pressure doesn’t increase much at all so the tyre face can become slightly concave which diminishes grip.
Starting your car’s engine on a cold morning can do more harm than several thousand kilometres of normal driving. This is especially a problem with older vehicles that aren’t used regularly and maybe haven’t had an oil change in a while.
Unless special lubricants or additives are used, oil drains into the sump and on cold days the slow cranking of a barely-awake battery doesn’t send much at all to the upper reaches of the engine. Only when the engine fires will the oil pump start to work and even then there are several precious seconds when some areas of the engine are running metal-on-metal and suffering accelerated wear.
Allowing the engine to warm up slowly will minimise damage but sometimes, and especially if you live in a very chilly region, that could take some time. That brings into play the heater and demister which in older models rely on heat from the engine. If it isn’t getting warm, then neither are you and a frosted windscreen is staying that way.
It may seem like common sense but PLEASE do not get frustrated by an immovable ice sheet that is obliterating your view and throw scalding water over the windscreen. You will crack it. Try a plastic scraper or even a hair dryer with a long cord. Or put a cover over your car if it is parked outside.
Winter driving hazards are numerous and vary in their intensity. Some places experience mild mornings but severe fog, while drivers in rural and hilly regions might encounter snow or the dreaded ‘black ice’.
Enthusiast Insurance understand the full range of summer and winter hazards and prices its cover accordingly. Visit www.enthusiast.com.au to explore the variety of insurance products and services available under Enthusiast’s Drive Less…Spend Less banner. This is a specialised evaluation process where the distance your vehicle covers is a major factor in determining the cost of your insurance.
Then if something unexpected happens on a wintery day and an Enthusiast client needs to make a claim, the full range of services kicks in. These include on-line claim reporting with a Help Line, your choice of repairer and fast assessment.
Enthusiast insurance can usually be arranged and paid for on-line in one easy transaction. However, if you have an unusual vehicle or several cars that need to be covered on the same policy, give our representatives a call on 1800 10 10 44 to obtain a personalised quote.