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Winter Driving Tips

It always makes sense to stop and think before you hit the roads, but in winter this is more true than ever. Here's a few tips to help you to stay safe this year.

1. Get your car checked before winter starts.

Lights. Making sure they're working as they should. Remember, when bought from us we fit exterior bulbs free of charge as part of our Volkswagen Service Promise.

Wiper blades. Severe weather puts more demands on your wiper blades so make sure they're in good condition before it begins. Remember with our Volkswagen Service Promise all wiper blades will be fitted free of charge if purchased through us.

Windscreen washer. We'll make sure it's working properly and there's plenty of screenwash. Make sure you buy your Genuine Volkswagen Screenwash from Heritage Volkswagen. With a freezing point of -35'C*, you'll be sure to keep a salt-free screen.

Brakes. We'll check your pads, discs and brake fluid so you can brake more effectively.

Tyres. We'll check your regular tyres and give you any advice you might need about choosing winter tyre sets.

Battery. Winter starting puts more strain on a battery so we'll check yours is up to scratch for the season. We also offer battery testing. Speak to your Service Advisor for more information.

We can offer you an Express Visual Check on your Volkswagen, for free, we'll check your tyres as a matter of course and let you know your tyre tread depth on each tyre and whether you need to think about buying new ones. Volkswagen would always recommend replacing your tyres before they reach the legal limit, currently 1.6mm.

*Based on 1 part screenwash, 1 part water mixture.

2. Know when you're out of your depth.

When slowing from 70mph, the stopping distance difference between a 3mm depth and the legal limit of 1.6mm depth is 44m.That's the length of four double decker buses! It's important to remember that your tyres are the only thing connecting you to the road and at any one time you have only four hand-sized pieces of tread contact.

3. Check your tread.

Make sure you check your tyre tread in three places on each tyre, as they may wear differently. If you don't have a tread depth gauge, use a 20p piece: simply place the coin in the groove of the tyre and if you can see the outer edge of the coin, it means your tread depth is less than 3mm and you should consider replacing that tyre. If you're still unsure Heritage Volkswagen will check them for you. Make sure you have the right tyre on for the road conditions. Swap to winter tyres from October to March each year for safety. The wear on summer tyres increases when used in temperatures below 7'C, increasing wear by up to 20%* *Source: Tyre Safe

4. Use dipped headlights.

Hail, heavy snow and rain all reduce visibility. Only travel at a speed that allows you to stop in the distance you're able to see ahead.

5. Always reduce your speed smoothly.

Give yourself time on slippery surfaces. Avoid harsh braking and acceleration, or coarse steering.

6. Slow down in plenty of time for bends and corners.

Black ice, caused when rain freezes on the road surface, will make your steering feel light. Ease off the accelerator and be delicate with your steering movements.

7. Drive in a lower gear than normal.

You'll need to brake less on ice and snow and avoid locking your wheels.

8. Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front.

In icy conditions, you may need to allow up to ten times the normal distance for braking.

9. Take care around winter maintenance vehicles.

Salting vehicles are extremely powerful. Keep a safe distance behind them and make sure you have plenty of screenwash to avoid a salt-smeared windscreen. Volkswagen Genuine screenwash has a freezing point of -35'C* to ensure you can always clear away salt residue.

* Based on 1 part screenwash, 1 part water mixture.

Source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

10. Stop frequently.

In snow it helps to clean the glass area, the wheel arches, the lights and number plates.

11. Don't drive tired.

Bad weather conditions are stressful and make driving more tiring than normal. Remember to stop every two hours and get some fresh air and hot drinks.

12. Be prepared.

Keeping emergency essentials in your Volkswagen would always be recommended. The Volkswagen Emergency Pack includes all that you need to put your mind at ease. All you need to remember is some water and food.

13. Stay Informed.

Remember to switch on your Traffic Programme (TP) and Traffic Information Memory (TIM) so you can avoid any dangerous roads or accidents. Check your Volkswagen Owner's Manual for more information.

14. Plan ahead.

If you're using a Satellite Navigation system for your journey, avoid smaller roads - which may be untreated. The shortest route may not always be the safest.

15. Be careful driving abroad.

In many European countries more used to colder temperatures, it's compulsory to fit winter tyres. In some countries people face fines if they don't fit them.

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