In the bleak midwinter

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Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week he is advising motorists on how to get going in the bleak mid-winter.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “It can take a bit longer to get yourself going on a cold, dark winter morning, and getting the car going is no different. Give yourself the time to deal with the extra things involved in getting on the road.”

Rodger offers six tips to avoid seasonal car problems:

A modern car does not need to warm the engine up before being driven, so avoid wasting fuel by not switching on the engine until you are ready to go. But do run it if you need to use the heater/demister before you move off, so you can start with a nice clear screen.

Clean any snow off the car’s roof and bonnet as well as windows – it seems obvious when you see it all blow off someone else’s roof, but in the early morning rush it’s easy to think it won’t matter, when it does.

When you get in the car, make sure all extras - such as lights, heaters and the radio - are turned off before you turn the key to start the engine. Starting puts a heavy load on the system.

Clean your windows inside and out (not just take the ice off) – a dirty screen will mist up quicker than one that’s clean.

Using the aircon helps keep the air in the car drier, and avoid misting up. It seems odd putting air conditioning on in the cold – but it works! Just remember to set the temperature up as well.

Think about where you park at night. Some places will be less affected by ice on the windows because of shelter from buildings, or protection from trees – you may be able to save yourself some early morning problems by where you park at night.

Rodger said: “Now is the time to check the battery is in good condition that your screen wash has a freeze-resistant additive, and do any other preparation for winter your car needs. Frosty mornings can be beautiful to look at – but awful to drive in if you and the car aren’t prepared for them.”