As the UK and especially Bristol & South West England battens down the hatches in preparation for the ‘Beast from the East’ meeting ‘Storm Emma’, motorists throughout the region need to take extra care when driving. Conditions will be treacherous and the advice is, quite rightly, do not travel unless you absolutely have to!

However, if you don’t have any choice or you find yourself caught out in the adverse weather conditions then knowing how to react to the situation can mean the difference between getting to your destination safely or ending up in serious trouble.

To make sure you are prepared follow our simple guide below…

Know your vehicle

Always make sure you are familiar with your vehicles winter-weather operating characteristics. Read your owner’s manual so you know exactly what equipment the car has for dealing with icy conditions.

Is your vehicle front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive?

Front-wheel drive cars generally handle better in slippery conditions than rear-wheel drive because the weight of the engine gives the front wheels more traction.

What breaking system do you have?

Make sure you know what type of braking system you have in your vehicle. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) give you a greater stopping advantage on slippery roads, but only if used correctly. When attempting to stop on an icy road using ABS you must apply steady constant pressure to the pedal. The ABS will then pump the brakes automatically and stop them from locking and preventing the car from going in to a skid.

If you don’t have ABS fitted then you should apply a gentle pumping action to the brake pedal to avoid wheel lock-up and skidding. Never apply a constant pressure whilst braking on ice if your car does not have ABS!

Does your car have Traction Control fitted?

Cars with traction control prevent the wheels spinning during acceleration allowing better grip on slippery roads. If your car has traction control make sure it is switched on during hazardous conditions. If your car doesn’t have traction control avoid pulling away too fast or sudden bursts of acceleration, especially in lower gears.

Take care at intersections

In snowy conditions intersections can be particularly dangerous. Slow down gradually before approaching an intersection, think ahead and avoid sudden changes of speed. Be aware of pedestrians, if it’s icy they will also have trouble stopping suddenly!

When pulling away at an intersection press the accelerator slowly, starting in second gear to reduce the chance of wheel spin.

Be careful on hills

As you approach a hill with snow or ice on try to pick a path that will give your wheels the most traction. Use the cars in front of you as guide and, if possible, avoid areas where they spin their wheels or start to slide. Try to stick to areas with powdery or unpacked snow as they provide better grip.

When going up a hill build up your speed gradually while still on the level. At the top of the hill descend slowly ensuring you are in a low gear, this allows the engine to drag reducing your speed without having to use your brakes.

Cornering on an icy road

Before entering a corner on an icy road always reduce your speed. Avoid any sudden deceleration or acceleration as this could cause the vehicle to slide or skid. Make sure all your actions, such as steering, accelerating and braking are kept as smooth as possible. If your car does go in to a skid, don’t panic, keep both hands on the wheel and try to steer into the skid.

Remember the best way to keep safe when driving conditions are extreme is to stay at home and leave the car on the drive!

If you need any help or advice on keeping your car maintained during these testing weather conditions please give DCS Bristol Ltd a call, we are always happy to help. To arrange an appointment for your vehicle please call us on 0117 972 4343 or email info@dcsbristol.co.uk.