Friday, 24 December 2010

Further driving tips...

And here are a few more tips to help us all cope with the cold weather...

Clearing ice/frost off windows before you move off:- The Motor factors across the country would want you to spend thousands of pounds clearing all of your glass with their spray de-icers... Get a good quality ice scraper and a thick pair of gloves to scrape off the majority ice/frost. Use sparingly the De-icer and spray it over your wiper blades and make sure they lift off the windscreen before you move off and on the rear wiper if you have one. This saves burning-out expensive wiper motors, blowing wiper motor fuses and/or damaging wiper blades. Use again (sparingly) the De-icer spray it into the very top of your drivers and passengers side windows, should you need to open either of these windows you will again save on burning out expensive electric window motors and fuses. Also, spray some of that De-Icer onto your washer jets.
DO NOT pour hot water on any glass with ice or frost, the rapid change in temperature could cause the glass to crack.
On the move keeping the windscreen free of ice/frost/salt:- Whilst on the move and the first few miles behind another vehicle the screen has salt on it.......... the temptation is to operate the windscreen washers, but because the water in the bottle or at the jets has frozen to ice nothing happens... Well something does happen and the little item that protects all electrical circuits on the vehicle, i.e. the washer motor fuse, blows. It is worth identifying where this fuse is fitted on your vehicle, checking your handbook and purchasing a few spare fuses for the cold weather.
Expensive prestige vehicles have small heater elements in their washer bottles and quickly turn the ice back to water then switch off again when the water temp reaches a given point.
Less expensive vehicles have nothing but you can purchase these heater element kits and fit them yourself should you be that way inclined.
Another way to help prevent the water from freezing is to use a higher concentration of washer fluid with an antifreeze content but in extreme cold not even this works. Go to your local garden centre and purchase one of those pump action spray gun bottles, fill it with a high concentration of washer fluid, you will have to stop when you screen is covered with too much salt but at least you can spray it on the screen to see and be safe. Sadly until the water defrosts in your washer bottle you may have to stop a few times especially on a long journey but again you will be safe. The same spray gun can be used to clean off the salt from your rear and front lights and number plates, so that you stay safe and legal..!

Winter Driving Tips from UKMT's technical chaps....

We catch up with our technical chaps to see if they have any thoughts about driving in the current snow and ice..... and here's what they said!

Auto Transmissions:- Some have a Snow button function, in short the Autobox ECU forces the box to shift-up to a higher gear and will not allow a low gear like 1st or second to be selected when the "Snow Button" is pressed. The philosophy being that if you gradually move off by tickling the throttle in a high gear there will be less chance of wheel spinning and losing traction, more importantly you will begin to move forward slowly and safely.

ESP:- If your transmission does not have this function or you may have a manual transmission the "Traction Control" function of your ABS/ESP should kick in. What is this then..................modern vehicles have a number of ways of providing you with traction control "Wheel spin prevention in low traction conditions" How do you know it's working, when traction control kicks in the ESP light will flash on the dash board, you can press the throttle as hard as you want the system reduces engine power. There are many ways by which the transmission, ABS and engine ECU's prevent wheel spin, the most common are:- Cutting the fuel delivery to the injectors, ABS braking the wheels or a combination of these in very quick succession.

Diesel engines:- Modern HDI (High Pressure Direct injection) still have heater plugs but rarely use them due to their high combustion efficiency and ability to start in cold conditions. In recent years manufacturers have removed the heater plug light from the dash board therefore in very cold conditions like we are currently experiencing you will need the heater plugs but will not necessarily have an indication on the dashboard of their run or heat duration. Advice is with HDi engines in very cold weather switch on ignition for a few seconds before cranking the engine to allow heater plugs to run a cycle.

Old Diesel engines Direct or Indirect injection:- Will all have heater plugs and a dash light to indicate their run cycle, when the weather is very cold let them run for three cycles, i.e switch on ignition, let the plugs run a cycle, watch light on dash go out then repeat another two times. Do not use ether type sprays into the induction system, they wash critical oil off the piston rings for first time start and rapidly increase cylinder bore wear. This is like pouring salt in wound, the engine is already a poor starter due to piston ring & bore wear, diesel engines rely on the heat generated on the compression stroke to start. Spraying these ether aid starters into the induction system accelerates the wear process, which is why motorists say that an old diesel engine becomes addicted to these ether spray starting aids.