With a few extra precautions, your Mercedes will deliver an exceptional motoring experience throughout the colder months.
The ever changing British weather presents the motorist with all sorts of challenges, not least during the colder months. Roads can get icy, the evenings grow darker, and your trusty Merc – as wonderful as it is – might need just a little extra TLC to keep you moving in your usual level of comfort and style.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of vital insider tips motoring experts rely on to get them through the chilly season without a hitch.
Top 10 Tips
- – Make a checklist
- – Visit the car wash
- – Get covered
- – Be tyre smart
- – Plan ahead
- – Love your glovebox
- – Keep warm
- – Keep your distance
- – Brush up your skills
- – Stay at home
In practice, many of the important factors you need to pay attention to during the cold season are exactly the same things you need to be aware of at any other time of year. It’s just that, if you do slip up, the consequences can be somewhat more severe.
So draw up a checklist including all the usual steps such as checking the car battery, oil and tyre pressure, replacing wipers, and topping up your anti freeze, and make sure you take action as necessary. If you want to be certain that you’ve all these basics are covered from the word go, why not book a winter service? And don’t forget to refer back to your checklist religiously, at least until the warmer weather returns.
During the summer, taking pride in keeping your Mercedes spotlessly clean yourself in the comfort of your own driveway is a real pleasure. In cold weather, however, it can seem like a chore, and when you’re busy keeping warm and cosy in front of a roaring fire it wouldn’t be surprising if washing the car is the furthest thing from your mind.
So visit a local car valeting firm and get someone else to do it for you. You can forget about those icy fingers, just remember to ask for a proper wax finish as it will help protect your car’s paintwork from abrasive frozen dirt.
It goes without saying that you must always keep your MOT up to date. However, it’s always a good idea to check your car’s is not up for renewal or already expired just to make sure. When the weather’s harsh it’s also essential to ensure that your emergency recovery policy is valid. So make sure you’re covered, and if possible choose a premium plan which includes a home start element and won’t leave you stranded in a cheap hotel in the event that your car breaks down and is not repairable by the roadside. It might cost a little more, but if it gets you out of trouble just once you’ll be eternally grateful for it, and the added peace of mind you’ll benefit from alone is well worth the extra investment.
As mentioned previously, correct tyre pressure is especially important under the treacherous road conditions ice and snow can bring, but it’s also essential to check that the tread on your tyres is up to scratch. In the UK, the law require at least 1.6mm of tread, however when cold weather leads to difficult road conditions it makes sense to allow for more than this. It’s also a good idea to consider following the example of motorists in northern Europe by switching to specialist cold weather alternatives. Featuring highly developed tread surface shapes and textures, these minimise slipping and skidding and maximise traction, and will improve driving safety even in extreme weather conditions.
Getting lost or stuck in traffic is never a great experience, but in cold weather when you run the risk of being exposed to the elements and accidents are more common it’s even worse. To add insult to injury, most drivers find it trickier to navigate in the dark, making a stressful journey more likely when the days are shorter.
Happily, however, advances in modern technology mean that there are many ingenious navigation apps available for your smartphone which can help you make sure that this doesn’t happen. Here are our recommendations:
All of these will be dependent on a serviceable mobile internet signal to a certain extent, although some functionality will be maintained if your smartphone’s GPS (Global Positioning System) is working. Dedicated GPS navigation systems are also available, top manufacturers of which include Garmin and TomTom.
During much of the year, a typical car’s glovebox might contain nothing more than a service manual, a few old tax discs, and other bits of bric-a-brac which have happened to have found a home in there. In the winter, however, they can be a vital storage space in which to keep a selection of cleverly chosen items to stand you in good stead in the event of an emergency. Essentials include some non-perishable food (think chocolate or some foil sealed biscuits), a bottle of water, an ice scraper, a first aid kit, and of course a pair of good quality warm gloves.
Consider also keeping an additional mobile phone of the non-smart variety in your glovebox. Basic phones are not only cheaper but also tend to have much longer battery life than their more advanced counterparts. This spare phone can be used to call 999 or breakdown recovery if you run out of battery power on your main phone. You might also want to consider using a different network provider to your main phone for this, as it could provide you with a usable signal when one might otherwise be unavailable.
If your additional phone is not locked to specific network, you can even try switching SIM cards. This will give you an even better chance of getting a signal in the event that you are stuck in a remote location and your main phone’s battery has run down.
Your car’s air-con or heating system will use vital battery power if your vehicle is stationary, so be sure to keep a warm fleece and a waterproof coat in the boot of your car at all times. Similarly, a pair of sturdy waterproof boots (or even just an old pair of Wellington’s) to keep your feet dry while waiting for your recovery van to arrive can be invaluable.
If you are travelling as a family, take good care to ensure that you have extra warm clothes for all family members. You might also want to pack additional cold weather kit such as fleece blankets, hand-warmers, or even sleeping bags, so that you can be confident that you have everything you need to keep all passengers as warm as possible in all conditions.
While it is always important to maintain a safe distance between your own vehicle and the car in front at all times, this is even more of an issue under cold weather conditions due to the effect wet or frozen road surfaces have on your car’s braking capabilities. Motorists are advised to resist the temptation to swerve too suddenly in the event that their vehicle begins to slide during braking or cornering, as it is thought that this can cause it go into an uncontrolled spin. However, no two driving situations are the same, so drivers must always rely on their own judgement. Also, make sure that you have the skills necessary to cope with whatever adverse weather conditions might throw at you.
Further to the previous point, reassure yourself that your driving skills are fit for purpose by considering an advanced driving course. These are offered by all major driving instruction companies, and will give you a thorough grounding in the skills cold weather driving requires. Who knows, you might even rediscover your enjoyment of motoring in the process.
Finally, if weather conditions are particularly harsh, for example if there is heavy snow or strong winds in addition to cold weather conditions, think seriously about cancelling your journey altogether and staying in the comfort and safety of your own home. Commuters are often pleasantly surprised at how accommodating employers can be when it comes to working from home, so don’t be afraid to ask. It can also pay to be honest with yourself about how enjoyable that social event will really be if it involves a difficult journey. After all, you can always reschedule, and your friends might be glad to avoid an unpleasant journey of their own.