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  • Avoid the winter dread with a bit of Saab Snow-How

    With early winter snow predicted for this weekend Saab GB is urging drivers to take necessary precautions.

    Alan Cowan, General Manager Aftersales at Saab GB, said: “After the severe winter weather we experienced last year the thought of a repeat performance is fairly daunting. Difficult driving conditions greatly increase the risk of an accident and even routine journeys can become hazardous experiences. As a nation we’re not really geared up to dealing with extreme weather conditions and snow can make even the most seasoned driver wary. A few simple precautions and a bit of Saab snow-how can really make a difference both in terms of safety and confidence when out on the road.

    Working for Saab, which is used to designing and building cars to cope with the Scandinavian winter including putting all models through the famous ‘elk’ test to check winter handling ability, we’ve come to learn all there is to know about preparing for and driving in the snow and ice.

    Whilst ice and snow are obvious hazards, it’s often the ‘invisible’ threat of black ice which can cause the biggest problems and driving round sheltered bends or corners which are shaded from the sun are where black ice is most likely to catch you out. A tell-tale clue that you are on black ice is when all goes quiet in the car and you can’t hear any tyre noise. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t brake or make any sudden steering inputs, but ease off the accelerator and proceed slowly and smoothly.

    Know your car. It may sound silly, but it is essential to know whether your car is a front or a rear wheel drive vehicle so you can react accordingly in icy conditions. Skidding in snow or ice can easily occur, even at relatively low speeds. If it does happen, never brake. In the event of a front-wheel skid in a front-wheel drive car, come off the accelerator and steer the front wheels in the direction you wish to go. For a rear wheel skid, steer into the skid, i.e. steer in the direction the rear of the car is moving. ABS (anti-lock braking system) will help prevent skidding under braking, but be sure you keep the pedal pressed down hard and, if you can, try it for experience under safe conditions.

    The stopping distance for a car travelling at 30 mph is more than twice as long in icy conditions so it’s really important to keep an even greater distance between you and the car ahead. Added to which, grip is at a real premium in winter conditions and a tyre with only the legal minimum tread depth displaces 85 per cent less water than a new tyre. If your tyres are on the edge of needing to be replaced, my advice is to act now rather than run the risk of losing grip or aquaplaning on the road.

    Lights (front, rear and indicators) can quickly become caked in road grime when it’s snowy and slushy and the range of your car’s headlamps can be reduced by as much as 30 metres if road grime accumulates on the lens. Clean them regularly, even mid-journey in severe conditions, so that you can ‘see and be seen’ at all times.

    It goes without saying that anti-freeze is the engine’s first line of defence, and it’s really important to get this checked each year, regardless of mileage, as part of the car’s service. If you haven’t had your anti freeze levels checked, it’s not too late, so get it checked out now.

    Finally, minimise wheel spin when moving off or accelerating in manual transmission cars by using a higher gear; when de-icing, leave the side windows open slightly if you don’t have air conditioning - it will speed up the de-misting process. And if you do get stuck, try reducing your tyre pressures; this gives you more grip by putting more tyre tread in contact with the ground.”
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