Operation Snow Driving For Non Bonds
Something about sub zero temperatures brings out the best-loved, far-fetched heroic Bond moments. Why not when predecessor Bonds like Roger Moore (For Your Eyes Only) had decades ago fearlessly paved the way for future Bonds by bobsledding down slippery ski slopes in some of the world’s most famous ski chases in movie history.
Modern day Bonds continue to intrigue us with their ‘badass’ snow antics: Timothy Dalton sledding down a mountain with a cello case in The Living Daylights and Pierce Brosnan earning his own down-slope ski chase Bond moment as he rams his invisible car across a patch of Icelandic ice in The World Is Not Enough.
That classic scene is enthralling to watch as I pay due acknowledgement to two things: it was worth every dime of my movie ticket as well as the likely catastrophe it could cause my non-Bond-retrofitted-and-operated vehicle if I ever tried to pull a stunt like Brosnan’s. I have nightmares of waking up to sudden freak weather like roads blanketed in thick carpets of snow and of all things, needing milk for my cereal but what lies between me and a quick dart to Coles is my unpreparedness for driving in snowy wintry conditions. No doubt like in a Bond movie I’ll be driving like the lesser equipped police vehicle that somehow always ends up spinning its tyres into the air before spectacularly crashing a few feet down (in slow motion no less) upon fruit carts that conveniently line the streets of most Bond car chases, hence why I decided to bundle and save on insurance during my car loan application with 360 Finance.
Seriously. With autumn here finally and the snow season almost upon us, it’s time to plan for the winter holidays. If you break out in cold sweat with fears of the brakes not doing its thing along slippery frost-lined tarmac or when the snow lays thick, the following tips may help ease your snow-driving anxieties. Here’s some ways to avoid ‘snow driving mishaps’ that have killed or injured too many Australians annually.
Essentials for Snow Driving
Go for DIAMOND Snow Chains
There’s so much to do, know and prepare way before you embark on snow terrain driving. And it’s much too late to learn by the roadside in a blizzard or under freezing condition or rain—essentials like how to fit your snow chains, for example.
You may have heard it before, the advice is to be sure your chains are packed for easy access. But wait. Maybe you’re not sure if you need them?
Snow chains are an emergency must-have to give your tyres traction on ice & snow. There’re two kinds: ladder (cheaper with less traction) and diamond patterned; and the latter is best as its criss-crossed weaving (rather than the parallel patterned chains on the ladder kind) will generally provide more traction when starting, stopping and cornering. The diamond pattern’s constant contact with the road surface is less likely to cause confusion to a vehicle’s ABS system and provides a smoother ride with less thump and road noise.
Snow Safety For 4WD Cars
Too many four-wheel drive drivers have the false impression they don’t require chains in snow. Not always true. In Victoria for instance it is illegal to enter a alpine national park without snow chains during the ski season, even in 4WDs. Remember that in a skid situation the only thing controlling your car is the brakes and steering—rendering your 4WD into a 2WD technically.
Precisely why it’s useful to understand that while 4WD vehicles tend to be better equipped for longer distance snow driving, varied weather conditions may still warrant snow chains mid-way through your journey. Even in situations where some 4WDs are exempted from installing chains, one could still run into weather circumstances where the chains become necessary again to continue a safe drive.
Your tyres should be well inflated and have a minimum of 3mm of tread to cope with wet, slippery and snowy conditions. One can get special ‘snow tyres’ (not to be confused with ‘snow and mud tyres’ commonly fitted to off-road vehicles) known also as winter tyres—marked with a standard logo showing a snow flake and a mountain. As an alternative to snow chains, 4WD vehicles not fitted with winter tyres may be fitted with snow traction devices, such as items made from textiles, that comply with the what’s known as ‘Austrian Standard ONORM V5121.1.’
Windows & mirrors
Your windscreen and the roof of your car should be cleaned off snow and ice before driving off. Water could be the worst idea to clear your windscreens. It only freezes up again in very cold conditions and hot water could possibly crack glass. There are commercial anti-freeze sprays that prevent frost and ice on your windscreens mirrors and windows. Some swear by cheap homemade remedies like combinations of water, vinegar and isopropyl alcohol ‘mixed to go’ in a handy spray bottle. A good spray of anti-freeze will stop your windscreens, mirrors and windows freezing up while driving. Covering windscreens with a good spray then with tarps while your car is parked could be a good frost deterrent as well.
Ensure your car battery is running efficiently and will serve you through the snow conditions. It gets discharged much more quickly than in warmer weather.
Most new vehicles today use coolants with wide temperature capabilities. If yours doesn’t, ensure you’ve added anti-freeze to your engine radiator. You’ll need to match the amount of anti-freeze to the capacity of the coolant system. If the coolant freezes, the engine block and radiator may crack, leaving you with a big repair bill.
Travel with a full tank to give yourself every chance of making it to your destination without worrying about a fuel stop in case you can’t get to one in time. You also want to be able to run the engine with enough fuel to keep warm in case of unforeseen delays. However, in case you’re stuck inside your car for long periods, it’s essential to ensure that snow isn’t blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle.
For older vehicles, a squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up. If they do, heat your key with a lighter to melt the ice.
Pack An Emergency Kit
Maybe we’ve seen too many apocalypse climate-disaster movies like ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ (2004; starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal) where fictional catastrophic climatic effects of ‘global cooling’ plunges the tiny population of survivors into a treacherous Ice Age. Not to be paranoid, but after that movie you’ll want to be ‘ice age ready’ even if it is for a couple of hours before help comes. Here’s what experts recommend you pack.
Emergency kit for snow driving:
- Torch with extra batteries
- Fully charged mobile phone and charger
- Sleeping bag and extra blankets for each passenger
- Snacks: biscuits and chocolate
- Fluids: drinking water, hot thermos flask with warm drink
- Warm clothing: wooly beanie hat, gloves and sturdy snow boots, high visibility jacket
- Emergency: First Aid Kit and any personal medicinal supplies you need
- Tools: Snow shovel or spade, ice scraper, bits of carpet to insert under tyres for snow clearing, Jump leads
Other Driving Tips In Snow
Your speed could be crucial in snow conditions. Too fast and you risk losing control, too slow and you risk losing momentum when you need it. The brake should only be used if you cannot steer out of a crisis. Drive so that you won’t have to rely on your brakes to come to a complete stop. Remember on an icy surface, the brakes tend to ignore you completely no matter how loud you yell. You may have to increase your ‘stopping distance’ — which is the time it takes you to react, brake and stop completely. You’ll need to increase your stopping distance under snowy conditions so much more than on dry roads to help you better discern the appropriate safe distance between your front and the back of other vehicles.
Ambient light in the mountains get worse in winter. Drive with your headlights on low beam during daytime to improve your visibility to other road users.
Do not apply the handbrake as moisture can freeze cables and brake linings. Instead, chock the wheels, but don’t use rocks as they may damage snow clearing machines.
One thing’s for sure, don’t attempt full throttle downslope on snow-capped roads. Not unless you’re a Bond or Bourne. That would be, yes—James Bond and his close cousin, Jason Bourne. Blond doesn’t count.
For our tips on how not to lose your cool or get caught in the cold by a raw vehicle finance deal—ring Australia’s most reputable and trusted car finance broker 360 Finance at 1300 361 360. We’re just the quicker, easier and smarter car finance for you.