Driving in Winter – 12 Things to Consider for Your Safety

Car driving in winter through snow

With colder temperatures, longer nights and more kinds of precipitation than you can shake a snow shovel at, winter seems like it might have been specifically designed to make driving more difficult. But while the winter months do present unique challenges compared to their warmer counterparts, there’s no reason you can’t stay safe while on the road.

All that’s required is a little forethought before setting out on your journey and a bit of wisdom while undertaking it and you’ll soon be at your destination, safe and sound. Here are a handful of winter driving tips to ensure that both you and other road users remain safe when getting behind the wheel this winter.

Before you go

Adequate planning is important when it comes to undertaking any trip, but it’s doubly so when driving in winter. Take the time to consider the following points before you go, and you’ll be best prepared for all eventualities.

1. Is the journey essential?

Wet, icy and snowy conditions outside can create a perfect storm for motorists, so the most logical of winter driving tips is to avoid it altogether. Reassess whether you need to make the journey today and if possible, put it off until the climate improves.

2. Prepare the car

Performing general car and tyre maintenance is advisable before any lengthy trip, but it’s imperative before all journeys in inclement conditions. Check that your brakes, lights, windscreen wipers and car battery are all up to scratch, as well as topping up all of the relevant car fluids under the hood.

3. Check your tyres

The tyres fitted to the vast majority of cars around the UK are not designed for use in temperatures below 7°C, so consider changing to winter or all-season tyres for the colder months. Having a tread depth of at least 3mm when driving in winter is UK law – almost twice the 1.6mm required at all other times of the year – so make sure you meet those obligations. Carrying snow socks or chains is not a legal requirement but might be a good idea if conditions are particularly bad.

4. De-ice and de-mist

One common mistake when preparing for a winter journey is not giving yourself more time before setting off. Any ice that has accumulated on the windscreen and windows must be cleared before leaving, using lukewarm (never boiling) water, a scraper and a de-icer if you have one. Remember to de-mist the inside of the car, too, since condensation quickly builds up in colder temperatures.

5. Stock up on emergency supplies

You never know what might happen on the road, so it’s best to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Your emergency kit should include warm clothing, food, drink, a torch, blankets, wellington boots, a de-icer, a scraper, a snow shovel, jump leads, a first aid kit and a phone charger to keep you connected.

While on the road

Of course, taking the right precautions before getting behind the wheel is important, but it’s just half the battle. Adjusting your technique on the road to practice defensive driving is paramount when it comes to ensuring the safety of yourself and others. Here are some particular points of concern:

6. Go slow

The golden rule of driving in wet, icy or snowy conditions is to reduce your speed. This allows you more time to react to unexpected occurrences (such as a pesky patch of black ice) and increases the likelihood that you’ll be capable of responding in a timely, responsible and, above all, safe manner.

7. Keep your distance

In standard driving conditions, it’s recommended to keep a distance of at least two seconds from the car in front of you. However, studies have shown that driving on ice can increase braking time by as much as ten times! With that in mind, increase your distance to at least six seconds and ideally even more to give yourself plenty of time.

8. Easy does it

As with the point above about maintaining a slow and steady speed, the same applies to acceleration and deceleration. Avoid pumping the accelerator or slamming on the brakes, since smoother application of both will aid in retaining traction and preventing unnecessary skidding.

9. Stay calm in skids

Speaking of skids, even the most careful driver may find themselves having to deal with an unexpected patch of ice at some point and heading into a skid. If that happens, the most important thing is to stay calm and steer gently into it. For example, if the rear end of the car is skidding to the right, steer gently to the right. Do not pump the brakes or take your hands off the steering wheel.

10. Listen to the road

Your car will make different noises based upon the surface of the road and the conditions that the weather exerts upon it. Generally speaking, driving through snow will create a lot of noise, since you’ll be kicking up the white stuff as you go. If the noise stops abruptly, it may signal you have moved onto a patch of ice instead.

11. Take hills carefully

It might be tempting to stamp on the accelerator when approaching a hill, but this will likely only make your wheels spin. Instead, try to build up some momentum before beginning the ascent, then climb gently, using the accelerator when necessary. Once you reach the hill’s crest, avoid switching into a higher gear and don’t brake at all as you descend, if at all possible.

12. In case of breakdown…

If the worst does come to pass and you find yourself stranded, the most important thing is not to panic. As well as following breakdown advice for any other situation, you should also prioritise staying warm (by wearing extra layers and staying inside the car, if safe to do so) and drawing attention to yourself (by tying a brightly coloured cloth or piece of clothing to the antennae of the car, using your hazards or leaving the central dome light on).

Is your car ready for winter?

Winter is easily the trickiest time of year for drivers. It’s also the time when many of us realise our cars aren’t what they used to be. If you’re looking to replace your old ride with a newer model, My Car Credit can help. We make the financing process a breeze with online applications and quick approvals. Get started today by calculating the cost of car finance before applying online.

Rates from 6.9% APR. Representative APR 13.9%

Evolution Funding Ltd T/A My Car Credit

My Credit Rating

Excellent

  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed

Good

  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs

Fair

  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit

Poor

  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past

Bad

  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan
£

X monthly repayments of
£X

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable

X% APR*

£X

£X

*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 13.9%, annual interest rate (fixed) 13.85%, 47 monthly payments of £201.38 followed by 1 payment of £211.38 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £2,176.24, total amount payable is £9,676.24.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!

Driving After Lockdown: Staying Safe After COVID-19

steering wheel of someone driving after lockdown

There’s no denying that COVID-19 disrupted almost every aspect of modern life, from how we work to how we shop. Lockdown had millions of Britons working from home, while many others were furloughed. The restriction on work and social lives meant that there was a significant reduction of vehicles on the road.

Since June, the government has pared back lockdown and is gradually reducing restrictions. Many of us are heading back to work and we can begin to visit family and friends again, while maintaining social distancing, of course.

With the surge of motorists back on the road, it’s incredibly important to be more diligent while driving. If you are getting behind the wheel for the first time in several weeks, take a look at our top tips on how to drive safely.

1. Prepare your vehicle

Your car may have been sitting for weeks on end. Before you head out on the roads, ensure that it is roadworthy. After a long period of inactivity, it’s possible your car’s battery will be flat. Inspect the tyres, ensuring the correct air pressure and that there are no cracks in the sidewalls.

Check the engine oil, lights and top up the fluids before setting off. When you need to top your car up with fuel, ensure that you are wearing gloves when handling the pump and paying.

2. Clean and disinfect

Whether you’re heading back to work, popping out to the shops or dropping off goods to vulnerable family members, your car needs to be kept clean and disinfected. Since the coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours, it’s wise to ensure your vehicle is not a carrier of these harmful germs.

Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the chance of coming into contact with the coronavirus. Wear gloves, a mask and an apron that are either washable or disposable.

Start by cleaning your vehicle by removing dirt, dust and debris from the interior. Next, use a disinfectant to spray over the dashboard, steering wheel, gearbox, handles, buttons, seat belts and visors. Wipe down with a clean microfibre cloth that is immediately put into the washing machine. Don’t forget to clean the interior and exterior door handles as well as the boot handle.

3. Plan ahead

Before setting off, plan a route to get to your destination. Be aware that certain road conditions may have changed in the last few weeks and there could be temporary closures and delays.

4. Slow down

There may be fewer cars than normal on the roads, which make it tempting to speed to shorten your journey. However, speeding is never the answer. Stick to the speed limits or below, especially as you get used to being behind the wheel if you haven’t driven in a while.

5. Carry hand sanitiser

Washing our hands is just as important as it was before to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, not everyone has access to soap and water when they are out and about. Instead, many resort to the next best option – hand sanitiser.

Keep a bottle of hand sanitiser in your vehicle that is at least 60 percent alcohol to use before leaving the vehicle and upon returning. Keep the bottle out of direct sunlight as the heat could reduce its effectiveness and turn it into a potential fire hazard.

A new vehicle for your new needs

If you find yourself using your car more often or less frequently after lockdown, or if it’s just looking worse for wear, it may be time to upgrade your vehicle.

At My Car Credit, we can help you secure the right car finance that suits your needs and budget. We are operating business as usual and are ready to help you today. Calculate car finance and then apply to get started.

Rates from 6.9% APR. Representative APR 13.9%

Evolution Funding Ltd T/A My Car Credit

My Credit Rating

Excellent

  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed

Good

  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs

Fair

  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit

Poor

  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past

Bad

  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan
£

X monthly repayments of
£X

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable

X% APR*

£X

£X

*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 13.9%, annual interest rate (fixed) 13.85%, 47 monthly payments of £201.38 followed by 1 payment of £211.38 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £2,176.24, total amount payable is £9,676.24.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!

Under the Hood: De-bunking Five Common Driving Myths

phone being used as sat nav on dashboard of car

There are plenty of us who treat driving myths as if they’re gospel. Most of us heard about them when we were learning to drive. Some of us have probably even adjusted the way that we have driven ever since on account of these myths. We’re here to debunk five of the common driving myths, so you can drive worry-free!

Two pints is the limit for men and a large glass of wine is the limit for women

This is one of the most common (and most dangerous) driving myths around. Many people use ‘two pints for men, one large glass of wine for women’ as a strict rule when in fact there are many factors which can affect your blood-alcohol level. The amount you’ve eaten, how tired you are, whether you’ve exercised and any medication you are on can all affect your blood-alcohol level at any time. The best rule is to avoid alcohol if you’re driving. (Plus: Who said all men drink pints and women drink wine anyway?)

You get 10% flexibility over the speed limit

No, you don’t. This has caught many people out and given them some unexpected speeding points too. Whilst many speed cameras allow for a 10% error in overestimation, this isn’t true of all them. Technically if you’re 1mph over the limit, you are liable for prosecution via a speed camera or otherwise. The best (and only) thing to do is to stay under the limit at all times.

It is illegal to have a light on in a car while driving

Many of us have screamed at a passenger flicking on a light during a night-time journey or have pulled over in frustration to have one last look at the map. Well, you might be surprised to know that there is no law that states you can’t have a light on while you drive. However, you can be pulled over if a police officer deems it to be a distraction.

I can use my phone in the car if it’s for sat nav

Yes and no. Any unfixed phone that’s being used in the car (i.e. on your lap, balanced in a cup holder) is deemed unsafe and could lead to you receiving a fine for careless driving. If you’re using a phone for sat nav, it must be fixed by a phone holder either on the windscreen or dashboard.

Driving myths are amongst the least helpful myths around – they can affect the way we drive and cause us to make crucial mistakes. The next time you’re about to get behind the wheel bear in mind that unless it’s written into law, you should leave it by the roadside!

My Credit Rating

Excellent

  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed

Good

  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs

Fair

  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit

Poor

  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past

Bad

  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan
£

X monthly repayments of
£X

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable

X% APR*

£X

£X

*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 13.9%, annual interest rate (fixed) 13.85%, 47 monthly payments of £201.38 followed by 1 payment of £211.38 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £2,176.24, total amount payable is £9,676.24.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!

Dashboard Lights Explained: A Complete Guide

bmw steering wheel with dashboard lights explained

We've all been there: a light is flashing away on your dashboard with increasing alarm and you have no idea what it means. There are so many dashboard lights that it's easy to be confused with what they all mean. So, to save you from flicking through your car manual, we’ve got an easy overview for you to get familiar with.

Red dashboard lights

These are the warning lights on your dashboard that you need to be most concerned about. They carry more severe warnings and should be acted upon as soon as possible: either by pulling into your nearest garage or stopping the car and calling a professional.

Oil warning

This warns you that something isn’t right with your oil: its temperature could be too high or its level and pressure could be too low. Oil protects the parts of your engine against friction by lubricating its parts via a pressure pump. If there is something wrong with your oil, you could be in for some expensive engine damage. Not good.

Coolant warning

Your coolant helps to keep your engine’s temperature regulated: without it, your engine would overheat to the point where its components would start to warp. If this light starts flashing, either your engine is overheating or your coolant level is too low. This could be an easy-fix issue or a sign of a bigger problem.

Battery charge warning

This light comes on every time you turn on your engine and will usually turn off a few seconds after. However, if you see this light remains on while you’re driving, there’s normally a problem with your electrical system. This could be a bad connection, a dodgy battery, damaged cabling or a faulty alternator. All of these could cause the car to effectively shut off and break down involuntarily – get it checked.

Brake system warning

Your brakes are one of the most important features of your vehicle. If this light comes on and your handbrake is down, there could be something wrong with your braking system. This could be that the brake fluid level is low or a more serious issue.

Airbag warning

Your airbag is one of the most modern and effective safety features in your vehicle. If this light comes on, there could be a fault with it. Without proper function, your airbag won’t go off in a crash and could cause serious harm to you and your passengers.

Power steering warning

Power steering is the technology behind your steering wheel that allows you to move it with ease. You might not have experienced what it feels like without it, but it’s a lot heavier to turn. This can be very dangerous for some drivers.

Amber dashboard lights

These lights indicate an issue with the engine which will affect the car’s performance and if left unchecked, could cause danger. It’s best to get these looked at sooner rather than later.

Check engine warning

This is a general warning light which indicates that there is something wrong with the engine that can reduce its performance. This could be anything from the ignition to the pistons.

ABS warning

The ABS light refers to the Anti-lock Braking System, which prevents you from skidding during heavy braking. Whilst the normal brake system will be unaffected, you should heed any consistent warning from this light as something could be wrong with your brakes.

Tyre pressure warning

This light indicates that the pressure in your tyres is wrong. If there is no noise from the vehicle and you get out and there is no sign of a flat tyre, you should be okay to drive on (cautiously) until you can check them properly.

The next time you see a symbol flashing away on your dashboard, hopefully, you’ll know what it’s trying to tell you. In any case, a warning light indicates that something isn’t right and you should get it sorted as soon as you can.

My Credit Rating

Excellent

  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed

Good

  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs

Fair

  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit

Poor

  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past

Bad

  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan
£

X monthly repayments of
£X

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable

X% APR*

£X

£X

*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 13.9%, annual interest rate (fixed) 13.85%, 47 monthly payments of £201.38 followed by 1 payment of £211.38 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £2,176.24, total amount payable is £9,676.24.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!