– By ANewDriver
Is warming up your car in the cold useful or does it harm the engine?
In the thick of winter, the common wisdom is that when you are gearing up to take your car out in the cold and possibly snow, you should step outside, start up your engine, and let it idle to warm up. But contrary to popular belief, this does not prolong the life of your engine; in fact, it may decrease it by stripping oil away from the engine’s cylinders and pistons.
When your engine is cold, petrol is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and vaporised fuel for combustion. Modern engines with electronic fuel injection have sensors that compensate for the cold by pumping more gasoline into the mixture. The engine continues to run rich in this way until it heats up to about 4 or 5 degrees Celsius.
Driving your car is the fastest way to warm the engine up to 4/5 degrees so it switches back to a normal fuel to air ratio. Even though warm air generated by the radiator will flow into the cabin after a few minutes, idling does surprisingly little to warm the actual engine. The best thing to do is start the car, take a minute to knock the ice off your windows, and get going. Have a good cloth or window wiper sponge (available in all garages or motor factors) for inside use to quickly remove the inside mist/fog that builds up on your windscreen, to avoid dangerous visibility.
Of course, hopping into your car and gunning it straightaway will put unnecessary strain on your engine. It takes 5 to 15 minutes for your engine to warm up, so take it nice and easy for the first part of your drive.
The long-held notion that you should let your car idle in the cold is only true for vehicles carburettor engines. Warming up your car before driving is a leftover practice from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads, in the 70’s and 80’s. Carburetors mix gasoline and air to make vaporised fuel to run an engine, but they don’t have sensors that tweak the amount of gasoline when it’s cold out. As a result, you have to let older cars warm up before driving or they will stall out. But it’s been about 30 years since carbureted engines were common in cars.
Autumn is here with its amazing colours! But before you hit the road and enjoy the stunning orange, red and yellow scenery, there are some autumn driving safety tips you need to keep in mind.
While you may think that winter is the most dangerous season for driving, autumn driving also has many hazards. Fall driving can be unpredictable as the weather is constantly changing and the days are getting shorter.
So here are some important tips to keep in mind when driving this fall season:
- Sunlight – As the season changes, so does the position of the sun and the glare generated. Glare can be dangerous when driving as it decreases visibility. It is important to ensure your eyes are protected and your visibility is clear. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses that will give you a clear view of the road.
- Weather Conditions – It is important for drivers to pay attention to road conditions during the fall transition. Fall has mixed weather. Rain can cause flooding on roadways and hydroplaning can be a concern with the excessive water on the road. If you encounter a road with excess water, ensure you slow down as speed can result in a loss of traction. In the event of severe rain, you may want to pull off the road safely and wait until the rain stops or at least slows down. Another concern is black ice – a transparent ice lawyer on top of the road that may look like a little puddle of water or may not even be easily visible at all.
- Be alert – As the days get shorter, drivers are faced with driving to work in the dark and driving home in the dark. Autumn is when we ‘fall back’ with our clocks, so the end of daylight saving time means earlier sunsets and reduced visibility on the roads, increasing unfamiliar driving conditions. Even on regular routes, drivers should exercise caution and adjust their driving, making allowances for seeing pedestrians, cyclists and all other roadway users.
- Watch Out for the Leaves – There are 2 types of hazards to consider when thinking about autumn leaves: the first one is related to the fact that people love to stop their cars to admire the stunning colours and views and the second one is linked to the hazard that leaves represent for drivers on the road. When pulling your can over, ensure to do it in a safe manner that does not interfere with other drivers on the road. And if you are cruising, watch out for the leaves: when they become wet, they become slippery and can result in dangerous driving conditions.
- Check your Vehicle before Driving – Take good care of your car, and it should take good care of you! With a change in the temperature, tires will contract and expand, reducing their pressure. Maintaining tire pressure and ensuring tires are well maintained is key to driving safely in the fall. Before you head out on your autumn driving trip, be sure to take your car in for a basic inspection of its fluids, tire pressure, windshield wipers, brakes, engine, and other critical parts.
It is important for drivers, regardless of their experience, to ensure they are prepared for the road conditions. If you need a refresher course or want to develop better autumn and winter driving skills, contact ANewDriver today!
– By ANewDriver
How to Drive Safely in Strong Wind – It is important to understand how to drive safely in windy conditions. Driving in conditions that involve strong or heavy wind can significantly increase your risk and potential for dangerous situations on the road. It may not seem like the most pressing safety concern for many drivers, but safety professionals know that driving in any type of severe weather is risky.
Severe weather demands undivided attention. It is important to reduce any possible distractions, such as turning the radio down or turning off a phone. Keep your attention fully on the road. Also, consider that sometimes the best driving decision you can make is to stay off the road completely until the weather clears.
A Strong wind can occur just about anywhere, but it can be more common in wide open spaces. Areas of concern also include highway overpasses and tunnels that can act as funnels for the wind.
In case you must drive in windy conditions, here are some tips on how to stay safe and reduce accident risks.
- Take special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather. Always avoid it if possible.
- Be aware of large vehicles on the road such as tractor-trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.
- Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.
- Take your time. Try to stay at a constant speed and not to turn the vehicle suddenly.
- Be aware of water, oil and others spillages that may have occurred on the road due to the heavy wind.
- Take ‘driving on wet roads’ precautions if the wind is accompanied by rain. Also be mindful of leaves and other objects (please read AUTUMN HAZARDS for more details here).
The infographic below also shows personal safety tips to keep in mind when weather conditions involve strong winds.
ANewDriver’s Top Tips for saving on your car insurance
When it comes to insuring your car, it seems that every year the cost increases and it is becoming more and more difficult to negotiate with insurance companies for a better price. At renewal time, the more you know and understand about your policy and how your quote is calculated, the more likely you are to get a better quote.
The obvious things are no claims discounts and having no or few penalty points, which works in your favour. Having 6 or more penalty points reduces the amount of companies who are prepared to quote you and take the risk in the first place. An example of this is: most major insurance companies (Allianz, Aviva, AIG, Axa, RSA and Zurich etc.) will decline to quote you if you have 6 or more penalty points, leaving your options to go with underwriting agencies, which are private owned businesses and believe that they can target certain niches and do it better and more profitable than the large Insurance Companies.
Usually, 3 or 4 weeks before your renewal date and existing policies expire is the best time to start talking to insurance companies, as insurers are more likely to compete on price, given that drivers would have more time to shop around.
Only ask for what you need for an optimum quote. Things such as breakdown cover, windscreen cover, theft from the car, driving abroad, personal accident cover, courtesy car and more are extras and each one adds to the premium. Some of these could already be covered by other things such as travel insurance, AA membership, home insurance or even your bank account in some cases.
Make sure to check that you’re not double paying for anything and just check if you really need those extras.
If you’re a first-time driver it’s worth looking at value type products which tend to remove features such as the no claims bonus discount. As a first-time driver you won’t have a no claims bonus to protect, so why pay for it.
The next question is to compare Third Party cover against Comprehensive cover. Third party is obviously cheaper, but ask the question to your insurance company and make a decision on what you need with what they say in mind.
Also, check on how much excess is on your policy. This is how much you pay yourself to make a claim. The lower the excess, the higher the car insurance so work out what you can afford to pay in case of an accident and set your excess to that.
Try to pay up front as many insurers charge interest on your payments if you spread out the cost over the year. If you try to spread even as the cost out, it will actually cost you more in the long run. You could be looking at an additional 3% on top of your policy.
Having a full Irish driving licence is one of the factors in a car insurance quote. Even if you have a full licence from Europe, it is better for your pocket, in the long run, to do the driver’s test in Ireland and get a full Irish licence.
– By ANewDriver via RSA
Driving during Cold Weather – Taking a number of simple precautions can ensure safety on Irish roads during winter. Don’t get caught out if severe weather hits, make the necessary checks on your vehicle now.
There are a number of simple precautions the RSA advises for driving over the winter months:
1.Check your tyres…they are your only contact with the road.
Tyres should be at least the minimum legal thread depth of 1.6mm but need to be changed before they get this worn. Tyres need to be to the correct tyre pressure to give the motorist the best chance in extreme conditions.
2.Use your lights.
As we come into the winter months, motorists are advised to use dipped head lights during the day so you are easily seen. Headlights and taillights should be in working order.
3. Understand your brakes.
Check your car manual and find out if your vehicle has safety assist technology such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or Anti – Lock Braking System (ABS). Learn how these technologies can assist your driving in harsh weather conditions.
It takes longer to stop a car during the winter weather so slow down and allow extra distance between you and the car in front.
5. Make sure you can clearly see.
All too often motorists do not de-fog or de-ice windows and mirrors which can compromise visibility. This winter ensure windows and mirrors are clear, and carry a de-icer and screen scraper. Do not use boiling water as this can crack the windscreen.
6.Beware of “Black Ice”.
Black Ice is one of winter’s biggest hazards as it is difficult to see. Watch out for sheltered/ shaded areas on roads, under trees and near high walls.
During these winter months it is advised that motorists carry a number of essentials in the boot of their car:
- High visibility vest
- Spare fuel
- Appropriate footwear in case you need to leave your vehicle e.g. boots
- A hazard warning triangle
- Spare wheel – (Check that your spare wheel is in good condition and is fully inflated. Some cars may have an inflation repair kit instead of a spare wheel. Make sure that you know how to use it.)
- Tow Rope
- A shovel
- De-icing equipment (for glass and door locks)
- Spare bulbs
- First aid kit
- A fire extinguisher
- A working torch
- A car blanket, additional clothing & some food and water
8. In the event of a breakdown.
Drivers need to ensure their vehicle is well in off the road so as not to obstruct other vehicles. The driver should also put on their hazard warning lights. If the vehicle breaks down on the motorway pull in as far as you can, alerting traffic behind you with hazard lights. The driver should leave their vehicle, get behind the barrier (on the embankment) and call the Gardaí, on their mobile phone or roadside telephone.
9. Keep up to date.
Listen to local weather and traffic reports. Pay heed to the weather warnings alerting drivers of unsafe and dangerous driving conditions.
10. Check out the RSA’s publication ‘Severe Weather Advice for Road Users’ for more detailed advice on what to do if severe weather strikes.
Here are some Questions and Answers that are commonly asked on your Driving Test. Click on the Question and find out the Answer.
What shape and colour is a warning sign?
Diamond Shape – Yellow and Black
When should you not drive?
While under the influence of alcohol, drugs (prescribed or otherwise), or when tired or drowsy.
What should always be kept clean on your vehicle?
Lights – Reflectors – Windows – Mirrors – Registration plate.
What is the rule about passing animals on the road?
Slow down, give plenty of room, do not sound your horn or rev your engine. Have patience.
Can you reverse from a minor road on to a major road?
No. (You should only reverse from a major road to a minor road).
What shape is the sign that regulates?
Regulatory signs are round with red on white background with the exception of two: Stop and Yield.
When should you use your hazard lights?
When your car is broken down, being towed, or at the scene of an accident.
Hailstorms can start very quickly without giving any warnings. So the best and only think to do is to be prepared and follow these tips.
Here’s what to do if you drive into a hailstorm:
- Keep an eye on the weather. While it is difficult to accurately predict a hailstorm, they are most commonly associated with severe weather such as tornadoes and thunderstorms. Check your local newspaper or weather channel for the daily forecast, and plan your schedules accordingly in the event of severe weather.
- Stay inside the vehicle. Hail falls at fast speeds, and it can cause injury to those in its path.
- Stop driving and pull to a safe place so hail doesn’t break the windshield or any windows — driving compounds hail’s impact with your car. Stop under an overpass, and don’t forget to pull out of traffic lanes and onto a shoulder. Avoid ditches due to possible high-rising water. Motorists should pull off to the side of the road, away from trees or other areas where debris could fall, and stay undercover until the storm has passed.
- Keep your car angled so the hail is hitting the front of your car. Windshields are reinforced to withstand forward driving and pelting objects. Side windows and backglass are not, so they’re much more susceptible to breakage.
Lie down, if possible, and keep your back to the windows. If you have a blanket, cover yourself with it to prevent possible debris from hitting you.
– By ANewDriver
Something as quick and simple as putting on your seat belt or getting your windshield cleaned can mean the difference between life and death. Being aware of yourself and other drivers and practicing good road etiquette is equally important. So here are some tips to keep you mindful and safe:
Driving Close to Schools
– By ANewDriver
Every season presents its own challenges on the roads, but autumn is one season that often gets overlooked. With weather conditions that are typically not as harsh as those in Winter, Spring, and Summer, it’s easy to take it for granted. While the weather may not be too harsh, it’s more unpredictable than other seasons, so we should be aware of some hazards.
Any morning may be warm, cold, foggy, raining, sleeting, or even snowing. This season also sees the first frost, which can cause roads to be slippery, especially on secondary roads where ice can form and take longer to dissolve. In addition to weather conditions, fallen leaves can also cause slippery conditions: that’s because they contain a large amount of water and are in decomposition process. So the best action to take when spotting a road covered in leaves is to slow down where there are large patches.
With the school year starting in September, everyone will be sharing the road with school buses during the morning commute. This can be particularly problematic because several morning weather conditions, including cooler temperatures, can make it difficult to see through a windshield. It’s a good idea to make sure the defrost feature is in working order before Fall is in full swing. When school buses are on the road it’s important to keep a safe distance at all times, especially when the stop arm is extended. Everyone needs to stop at that time, unless there is a divider between a car and the school bus. The rule for stopping is similar to the rule for pulling over when an emergency vehicle has its lights flashing.
Fall conditions also affect evening driving. During the season, the sun rises later and sets earlier, so a person may wind up driving toward the sun in the evening. It’s a good idea to have a pair of sunglasses in the car. A properly positioned visor can also help with the glare of the sun. The best way to position a visor is to push it all the way toward the windshield, and then bring it toward the steering wheel until it’s in the correct spot. Once the sun starts going down, it’s time to turn on the headlights. It’s best to do this during dusk so other drivers can see the car, because a setting sun can still cause glare on a windshield. During dusk it’s also important to use the two-second rule to keep a safe distance between cars. Using these driving tips will be a good step toward a safe season.