Driving a 4×4 vehicle in colder weather can be challenging, especially when there is snow, ice, or other hazardous conditions on the road. Here are some smart tips for safe driving your 4X4 in colder weather:
- Slow down and maintain a safe distance: When driving in colder weather conditions, it is essential to slow down and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles on the road. This is particularly important when driving a 4×4 vehicle, as it can give drivers a false sense of security.
- Check the weather conditions: Before heading out, check the weather conditions and plan your route accordingly. Be aware of any snow, ice, or other hazardous conditions on the roads, and adjust your driving accordingly.
- Use your 4×4 wisely: 4×4 vehicles are designed to provide better traction in slippery conditions, but it’s important to use the 4-wheel drive system appropriately. Only engage the 4×4 system when necessary, such as when driving on steep hills or in deep snow.
- Keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle: In case of an emergency, it’s important to have a winter survival kit in your vehicle. This should include blankets, warm clothing, food, water, a flashlight, and other essential items.
- Check your tires: Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread depth. This is particularly important in colder weather conditions, as it can affect traction and braking.
- Brake and accelerate gently: In slippery conditions, it’s important to brake and accelerate gently to avoid skidding or losing control of the vehicle. This is especially important when driving a 4×4 vehicle, as it can be easy to lose traction if you accelerate too quickly.
It is good to keep in mind that, when the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius, several things can happen to your vehicle, including:
- Battery performance: Cold weather can affect battery performance and reduce its cranking power, which can make it difficult to start the engine. If your battery is weak or old, it may not have enough power to start the engine in cold weather.
- Engine oil: Cold weather can thicken the engine oil, which can reduce its flow and make it difficult to circulate through the engine. This can increase engine wear and reduce its efficiency.
- Tire pressure: Cold weather can cause a drop in tire pressure, which can affect handling and increase the risk of a blowout. It’s important to check your tire pressure regularly and inflate them to the recommended level.
- Fuel efficiency: Cold weather can reduce fuel efficiency, as the engine has to work harder to warm up and maintain its operating temperature. This can increase fuel consumption and reduce your vehicle’s range.
- Braking performance: Cold weather can affect braking performance, as the brake fluid can thicken and reduce its effectiveness. This can increase stopping distances and reduce overall safety.
Some cities have higher levels of air pollution, which can create nuclei for fog droplets to form around. The word “smog” is derived from the combination of the words “smoke” and “fog”, as smog often appears as a dense fog-like haze. Photochemical smog is typically found in urban areas with high levels of traffic and sunlight. Industrial smog is created from the burning of coal, which releases large amounts of sulphur dioxide and other pollutants into the air. Industrial smog is typically found in areas with heavy industry One place jumps to mind: WITBANK… but actually the most polluted cities in South Africa are: Springs, Alberton, Pretoria, Randburg, Johannesburg, Sandton, Vanderbijlpark, Bethal, Klerksdorp, and Vereeniging – in terms of the South Africa Air Quality Index (AQI).
Driving in heavy rain or fog can be dangerous, as visibility can be reduced, and the road surface can become slippery. A few safety measures are recommended when driving in heavy rain or fog:
- Slow down: Reduce your speed when driving in heavy rain or fog to give yourself more time to react to any hazards on the road, especially if you struggle to see the car in front of you. Rather pull off the road (far enough not to be in the way of oncoming traffic) or postpone the trip if at all possible. Driving slower can reduce the risk of hydroplaning on wet roads.
- Use your headlights: Turn on your headlights, even during the day, to increase your visibility to other drivers. Use low beams in fog, as high beams can reflect off the moisture droplets and reduce your visibility.
- Maintain a safe distance: Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you to allow for sudden stops or evasive maneuvers. Wet roads can increase the stopping distance of your vehicle.
- Use your windshield wipers: Turn on your windshield wipers to clear away raindrops and maintain good visibility. Replace worn or damaged wiper blades to ensure they work effectively.
- Use defogger and air conditioning: Use the defogger and air conditioning to clear the windshield and maintain a clear view of the road.
- Avoid sudden manoeuvres: Avoid sudden changes in speed or direction (e.g. hard braking or sharp turns), as these can cause your vehicle to lose control on wet roads.
- Plan your route: Plan your route in advance and avoid areas prone to flooding when visiting winter rainfall areas. If possible, wait until the weather clears before heading out.
It is always important to take care of your vehicle, but even more so in cold weather. Keep the battery charged, use the recommended engine oil, check your vehicle’s tire pressure regularly, and drive with caution to maintain proper braking performance. Proper maintenance and preparation can help ensure that your vehicle performs well and remains safe in cold temperatures or dangerous conditions. Let us check your 4X4 before winter to make sure that you are all geared up for safe driving!
N1 4X4 is one of South Africa’s biggest suppliers of new, used & reconditioned parts for Cruisers and Toyota 4WD’S.