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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Frost Files ... Brrrrrrr.!

After the heaviest frost of the Winter so far it’s a good time to have a look at the do’s and don’ts of handling your car in these conditions. Whether you are a relatively experienced Driver or a novice, these wintry conditions require thought and planning if you are to stay safe and look after your car.

Let’s look at the Car first:-

1. After a heavy frost you can’t just get in and drive off. Silly though this may sound, we still find drivers heading off to work, peering through a little space on the front Windscreen. This is highly dangerous.
2. The answer is to check outside when you get up in the morning , particularly after serious frost warnings, start the car and leave it to warm up for 15 or 20 minutes. This will clear the windscreens but not warm the engine up to normal working temperature. It’s my experience that a further 15 to 20 minutes of normal driving will be needed to sort this out.
3. Sometimes you will find that the frost has been so heavy that your key will not open the drivers’ door. We are talking about houses without garages here. If you normally park parallel to your house it’s a better bet to have the drivers door nearest to the house since this provides a degree or two of extra protection .Quite often the key will open the door nearest to the house but not the door furthest away.
4. Even if you manage to get in and start the car quite often, until it has warmed up it may be impossible to get out again. This has happened to me a few minutes ago and I had to extricate myself from the passenger side.
5. If the key either won’t go in to the lock or even fail to open the door don’t use boiling water to free the lock; it can freeze again and also remove the free moving aspect of the lock. What to do? I have found that a match or two will heat the key sufficiently to get it into the lock and if left in the lock barrel will release its heat fairly quickly, freeing the mechanism. You may have to do this a couple of times until the heated key does its job.
6. These simple techniques only take a few minutes and will have your car ready for the road in even artic conditions. As you can tell I am not one of the fortunate drivers with a garage but today with more cars attached to each household this will be a problem for all but the Lord and Master or Mistress.
7. Having lived in the country for twenty five years now what I have described above is something that has to be taken on board quite a few times during a hard Winter.
8. Don’t attempt to operate your Wipers until the screen is very well defrosted as the wiper blades can be torn asunder if they are still stuck to the Windscreen.
9. Of course in these conditions it will be considerably longer before your screen wash reservoir is defrosted and if the conditions prevail it may take hours before it becomes operational. A useful tip would be to clean down front and rear screens, after defrosting so that you have a good level of visibility for your early morning drive. One good thing about this type of weather is that there will be less muck and dirt being showered onto your windscreen, that is of course until the roads thaw and things return to normal.
10. At this time of year with the seasons seemingly competing with each other, it is vital to keep your screen wash reservoir topped up and with some “blue rinse” additive. With the number of trucks, building and road working vehicles everywhere it doesn’t take long for a windscreen to be well and truly obliterated. Use plenty of “squirt” for both front and rear screens since it is very easy to scratch a windscreen which then makes driving difficult, particularly at night in the glare of oncoming headlights.

Finally. A word of advice for Drivers who just simply cannot dip their lights correctly or who drive with their Rally Spec Fogs on during nighttime hours.
(1) Dipping your lights after you have blinded another Driver is the same as signalling when you are half way through a manoeuvre; in other words a waste of time. You must dip your lights well before you are in range of an approaching vehicle. Eyes take at least 7 or 8 seconds to return to normal after being blinded .At any kind of speed this creates a serious hazard for the Driver at night
(2) Fog lights are for use in …yes you’ve guessed it FOG and the use of fog lights when there is “pas de Brouillard” (that’s French for?) is illegal. More on this subject in a future post.

Drive Safely and remember your Car likes to be Warmed up just like You Do!

Astral Driving School Limerick. Hints and tips for New Drivers in Ireland
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