As we approach the back end of the year, temperatures drop, nights draw in and driving all of a sudden becomes a little different to how it was just a month or so ago.
Perhaps one of the biggest changes to address is the potential for snow, ice, and fog. The white sheets that adorn the road like a blanket present drivers with a variety of challenges that can, if not handled correctly, lead to dangerous accidents.
In this edition of our blog, we look at how you can get your Land Rover ready for snowy weather both here and abroad.
Preparing your Land Rover for snow
Perhaps one of the first things to do as we head out of autumn is to book a Land Rover servicing with a reputable Land Rover servicing specialist. That way you know your vehicle has been thoroughly checked over and had any issues rectified. Once a service is complete, much is down to you and how you care for your vehicle before, during and after your winter journey.
Keep a windscreen cover on the vehicle to help protect it and if you have a garage, store your Land Rover in there when the vehicle is not in use. These small measures can make for big differences when it comes to driving in sub-zero temperatures.
You should also carry out some checks that will help you remain reassured that your Land Rover is prepped for the colder climate. Check all your lights, we would recommend you have someone else walk around the vehicle as you test each one so they can see whether there are any faults.
Then check your windscreen wipers for their condition and their operation. Now would also be a good time to test any systems that your Land Rover has built-in. Snow mode is a feature that many now have, whilst you won’t feel the benefit of it in drier, warmer conditions, just testing it works would be hugely beneficial before you hit the white stuff!
Finally, ensure that your oil, screen wash and coolant are all topped up.
Things such as checking your tyres, mirrors, brakes and so on would all have been checked at your servicing, but you can check each again yourself if you have any doubts.
Now plan your route, ensuring you pay attention to weather reports and road conditions. Just remember, the quickest route may not be the safest.
Packing your Land Rover winter driving kit
Depending on where you are visiting, requirements vary. Some countries for example stipulate that winter tyres must be used during certain months; others require you to pack particular roadside assistance accessories or safety aides. Pack the following to cover all bases and no matter whether you are on or off-road in your Land Rover, you will be adequately protected.
- Tow rope
- Heavy-duty jump leads
- Torch and spare batteries
- Waterproofs and suitable boots
- Warm clothing and blankets
- Snow chains
- De-icer and scraper
- Food and drink
- Power bank
- Fully charged mobile
- Warning triangles
- Hi-vis jackets
- Entertainment (especially if you have kids with you!)
- Spare tyres
Winter tyres are not a legal requirement in the UK, but should you be venturing abroad, you may need to use them. In Austria, Sweden, Estonia, Germany, and Finland for example there are very specific rules around the use of them and failing to adhere to said rules could result in fines.
5 rules for Land Rover driving in the snow
As with any winter weather driving, care and attention are to be paid at all times. What looks like a simple surface to traverse can pose many hidden obstacles and if you are not prepared, could see accidents happen.
With this in mind, use these five steps to keep moving safely in the right direction:
1. Drive slower
It stands to reason that your Land Rover will react differently when the surface is slippery compared to when it is dry. So, drive slower and understand that braking distances will be much larger. In some cases, doubled. When approaching corners, brake before you approach and steer through it at a safe speed, if you feel the wheels sliding or spinning, ease off the accelerator until you feel the wheels regain grip.
2. Be progressive…
Use progressive throttle and gently handle the steering wheel. Aggressive movements of the wheel could cause sudden slips and slides across the road surface. Use the brakes with the same progressive nature you use the accelerator too. This will allow for a much easier stop than if you slammed them on.
3. Keep hands on
Your hands, both of them, need to be on the steering wheel at all times, even when you are reversing. Black ice can cause you to suddenly lose control of your vehicle so having both hands on the wheel can help you correct a slide or spin much easier than if you only had one hand on there.
4. Inform people of your journey
A journey in snowy or icy conditions can take much longer than when the roads are clear. Let people know of your route, your eta and the current weather conditions where you are. Things can change fast and it may mean you need to stop over somewhere before completing the rest of your journey. Keeping people up to date with such information is helpful to everyone.
5. Regularly check news and weather updates whilst on the road
Your journey could be running well at one end but be hindered by bad weather much further into it. Keep up to date with what is happening so you can alter plans if need be.
Driving a Land Rover on ice
If the conditions are icy rather than snowy, treat it with the same caution as snow and prepare with the same guidance in mind. You just may need to approach the roads a little differently.
If driving on packed ice, when moving off, use a high gear, this will benefit you and the vehicle. Remember to drive slower and with more caution, remembering the need for increased stopping distances.
You should also consider where and when you will be driving. Areas covered by trees for example will not be affected by ice in the same way as open roads. Rather than a long stretch of road being frozen over, you are more likely to encounter sporadic patches of ice when driving under the cover of trees. This can cause sudden slippery patches so extra care is definitely required. You will also notice that bridges and overpasses ice over much quicker than normal roads leading to you going from one relatively grippy surface to a fairly slippery one quite quickly.
If the ice does cause you to start skidding, despite your best efforts to prevent it, do not panic. Simply keep your hands on the steering wheel, gently use the brakes and steer into the skid.
Driving a Land Rover in fog
Much like the snow, and ice, prepare for the worst so that if it happens, you are as protected as possible. Your Land Rover service, before the journey, should have ensured that all your lights work correctly. You will need them as the current driving rules state that if visibility is less than 100m, headlights must be used.
Remember the difference between headlights and fog lights though. Headlights may give a far-reaching beam of light, but this can be a hindrance. Using your fog lights, you instead get a beam that is closer to the road surface and not as high up. This gives you a clearer view of where you are driving and avoids the glare and reduced visibility your headlights may create in such conditions.
It is also suggested that you leave two seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Land Rover winter driving features
Luckily the technology embraced by Land Rover means a drive in the snow or ice isn’t perhaps quite as dangerous as in other vehicles. The Terrain Response system helps your vehicle handle variable conditions giving you a more comfortable and safer drive. Then there is the addition of the HDC, the Hill Descent Control. This allows you to navigate potentially slippery downward slopes at a steady speed and avoid potential skids and accidents.
InControl Protect is another great Land Rover feature so should you find yourself stranded due to an unexpected breakdown, your location and the Diagnostic code can be sent to Land Rover who will then have you back up and running quickly.
ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution are also notable features that mean should hard braking be necessary; the inbuilt system will do everything it needs to. Simply keep your foot hard on the pedal and the brake will be automatically applied and released as necessary by the vehicle.
If you are opting to drive your Land Rover either on or off-road, speak to RCV in advance. As the London Land Rover specialists, our team can pass on more than 30 years of expertise to advise you on everything you need to know for a safe drive in the colder weather. Tyres and important in these conditions so we also offer a full Land Rover wheel and tyre alignment service so that you can be fully assured your vehicle is in its best condition. Contact our team today to find out more.