A guide to safe driving this winter
Winter sneaks up on us every year, but it's something for which we should all be prepared.
Most important of all, you should check that your car is in good condition ready for the poor weather and long nights.
We can offer an Express Visual Check on your Volkswagen, for free. This includes checking the lights, wiper blades, brakes, battery condition and windscreen washers, all of which can suffer in the winter cold and render you stranded.
Also checked are your tyres. Though the legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm, a tyre in this state is less effective at removing water than a new tyre. The difference between a tyre with 3mm tread depth and one at the legal limit is more than 40 metres at 70mph., and Volkswagen would always recommend replacing your tyres before they reach the legal limit
It's recommended too to swap to winter tyres from October to March each year for safety. The wear on summer tyres increases when used in temperatures below 7°C, while winter tyres can give you up to 60% more grip in the same conditions - and beware if you're driving on the continent that these can be a legal requirement. For extreme snow conditions there are snow chains and even snow socks.
There's plenty you can do while driving to improve your chances of an unscathed winter period. Cutting down on all non-essential journeys is the best way, but for all other trips you should remember that ice will dramatically alter your control of the car. You should increase the gap between you and the car in front as stopping distances can increase by up to ten times with icy surfaces.
Give yourself more time to slow down for bends and obstacles, avoiding harsh inputs. It's also advisable to change down the gears as you slow, to allow engine braking to do some of the work and avoid locking your wheels. Make sure that you're seen too - use dipped headlights, but avoid fog lights unless the visibility is below 100 metres.
You should also plan your route to avoid smaller, untreated roads. Use traffic alerts on your audio system to avoid any queues or accidents - as the rapid slowing of traffic will often cause second or third accidents on either carriageway.
It's also worth being prepared for the worst, even if you've done your best to avoid it. Carry with you a mobile phone charger and torch in case of emergency, along with gloves and a coat if you have to wait in or around your car for any length of time. The Volkswagen Emergency Pack includes all that you need to put your mind at ease - all you need to remember is some water and food.