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Winter motoring myths you SHOULD ignore

We've compiled the 7 motoring myths you SHOULD ignore.

Myth 1) Pour boiling water on a frosted windscreen

No matter how rushed you are, never pour boiling or even warm water on an iced-up windscreen because it may cause cracks or weaken the glass due to the sudden change in temperature – especially if there are already small chips or cracks. Prevention is better than a cure, so cover the glass overnight with cardboard or buy a windscreen frost protection cover. Use a proper ice scraper and/or a spray can of de-icer to safely and effectively remove ice from other windows and mirrors.

Myth 2) Use items such as CDs and credit cards to clear windscreen frost

A surprising number of motorists still insist on using a variety of household objects as makeshift ice-scrapers, including credit cards, CD cases and cooking utensils. By improvising, they risk causing permanent damage by scratching glass or damaging the surrounding rubber seals. Always use a proper ice scraper on your frosted car windscreen and windows.

Myth 3) Always switch on your fog lights when driving in foggy conditions

There’s a temptation to use fog lights even in a light mist. However, you should only switch them on when visibility is reduced to 100 metres or 328 feet (about the length of a football pitch) because they may dazzle other drivers. Apart from putting yourself and others in danger, it's also illegal and could result in a £50 fine. Also, always use dipped headlights in foggy conditions, but never full beam because fog reflects the light back and reduces your visibility further. Finally, don't forget to turn off your fog lights when visibility improves.

Myth 4) You're insured if you damage your car driving through flood water

It's worth checking the small print on your car insurance policy because many insurers won’t cover you if you damage your car driving through a flood. Some insurance companies make a distinction between avoidable and unavoidable flood damage, and may not pay out for damage they consider avoidable (ie driving through flood water). In a typical car, if the water depth is more than 4-6 inches (10-15cm), turn around. Not only can lose control, but the engine will stall because water gets sucked into the exhaust or washed into the air intake. 

Myth 5) It's OK to drive with snow and ice on your car if your windscreen is clear

Clearing ice and snow off your car in the morning is a nuisance, but it's a bad idea to cut corners. Poor visibility resulting from failure to clear your windscreen and windows could lead to a collision and is punishable with a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence. You should also take the time to clear snow off the roof because it can slip down onto your windscreen or rear window or blow off into the path of other traffic, causing a hazard. Finally, don’t forget your number plates (front and rear). If you are caught driving with snow, ice or mud obscuring your plates, you could face a £1,000 fine.

Myth 6) Deflating your tyres gives you better traction in the snow

The thought behind this myth is that by letting some air out of your tyres, you’re increasing the surface area of the portion of each tyre that comes into contact with the road. The reality is that it won’t give you better traction. In fact, it can be both illegal and dangerous - and probably make things worse. By letting air out of the tyre, it not only increases the chances of a blowout and premature wear, but removes pressure from the part of the tyre that does the most work on snowy roads - the middle section of the tread.

Myth 7) You're covered if your car is stolen while its left running on a cold morning

Leaving your car with the engine running while the windscreen defrosts is tempting. However, if your car is stolen your claim will be rejected because you left your keys in an unattended car - an open invitation to a thief. Instead, get up a few minutes earlier in the morning, wrap up warm and staying with your car the whole time. Leaving the engine running in a vehicle parked on a public road also breaks Rule 123 of the Highway Code and is an offence under the Road Vehicles (Constructions and Use) Regulations 1986.


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