Whether or not you are an Electric Vehicle owner, the snow outside tells me it is time to think about the top tips for cold weather driving. Our focus is skewed towards EV drivers, but hopefully there are some useful pointers for all drivers.
If you have an electric car, most car makes allow for timer or app controlled preheating of the car. If your car is charged and plugged in then you get the preheat and a full battery.
Tyres and Chains
Winter tyres are a good idea in any car if you have snow conditions.
Alternatively chains are helpful when snow is deep, but need to be removed quickly once you are back onto tarmac. If you opt for chains be prepared:
- Take warm clothes and shoes for fitting the chains.
- Take a plastic sheet to kneel on (bubble wrap is great as it insulates as well) and take some old gloves – it can get really cold fiddling with unfamiliar chains.
Always use the brakes gently in slippery conditions.
When pulling away on snow you want to avoid the tyres slipping. To do this you need to limit the toque. Most electric cars have an ECO mode which will reduce maximum torque. If you are still on petrol, then selecting second gear can help limit the torque.
Don’t forget to put antifreeze in your windscreen wash.
If you have rear/side facing cameras, in winter the road muck means it is a good idea to take a tissue and wipe your cameras before a trip for reversing visibility.
Range Vs Heating
For electric cars, battery storage does reduce in winter. My experience is about a 20% drop between the warmest and coldest days in my Nissan Leaf. However, it is consistent so I get no surprises.
The heater in the Leaf is very responsive (it doesn’t need to wait for a petrol engine to warm up), although some ZOE ZE drivers have reported challenges. However, for all electric cars, although electric heating takes energy, it is insignificant compared to driving, so even on the coldest days it only reduces the range by a few miles.
If my mileage is tight and I want some reserve, I can turn off the car heat and just use the seat and steering wheel heaters. It makes me feel warm even if the air is cool.
Whatever your car, snow and ice gives surprises and it is sensible to be prepared. My top tips are to stay on main routes, make sure you have a well charged mobile, and, if you must drive to remote areas, make sure you have some food and hot drinks, and even blankets (memories of 8 hours stuck in Italian alps behind stranded coaches mean I learned this the hardway)
We wish you safe driving.