WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET STUCK IN THE SNOW

Hundreds of drivers have been caught out by the weather in recent days. While it can be dangerous there are ways to avoid the worst effects of spending hours in a cold car, miles from anywhere.

First of all, make sure you have packed your emergency snow kit. This should include warm clothing, some food, water and a mobile phone.

If you are trapped in your car, you can stay warm by running the engine. However, it is vital that the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. If the engine fumes cannot escape, you could be overwhelmed by carbon monoxide gas, which is highly toxic.

If there is any risk the fumes can come into the car, do not run the engine. Even if it is safe, do not run the engine for more than 10 or 15 minutes in each hour.

Stay in or close to your car. In heavy snow it is easy to get disorientated and lost or separated from your vehicle. If necessary you can always hang a piece of brightly coloured cloth on your car to let others know you are there.

Also see your post on Driving in the snow and preparation for winter

DRIVING IN SNOW AND ICE

This is what the Institute of Advanced Motorists recommends for driving in snow and ice.

When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible.

Start gently from stationary, avoiding high revs. If you get yourself into a skid the main thing to remember is to take your foot off the pedals and steer.

Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.

Double or even triple your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front. Drive so that you do not rely on your brakes to be able to stop – on an icy surface they simply may not do that for you!

If your vehicle has ABS in very slippery conditions it will not give you the same control it would in others. Do not rely on it.

Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using shortcuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes.

On motorways stay in the clearest lane where possible, away from slush and ice. Keep within the clear tyre tracks if you can.

Stay in a higher gear for better control, and if it is slippery, in a manual car move off in a higher gear, rather than just using first.

On a downhill slope get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up – it is much easier to keep it low than to try to slow down once things get slippery

In falling snow use dipped headlights or foglights to make yourself visible to others (especially pedestrians) – but as conditions improve make sure your foglights are only on if necessary as they can dazzle other drivers

If you are following another vehicle at night, using their lights to see ahead can cause you to drive dangerously close – keep well back from other traffic.

Also see our post on preparation for winter driving

Prepare your vehicle for winter driving

Here is some advice on how to prepare your vehicle for winter driving if you have to make a journey and what to do should you be caught out in bad weather.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Tyres: Ensure your tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions.

Battery: In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure if you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery.

Engine: Modern engines are more robust than older ones. All the same, depress the clutch when starting as this will reduce drag on the engine when starting, and preserve the battery.

Screenwash: Keep this topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing.

Fuel: Keep your tank topped up – that way if you are caught out, you’ll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm. However, it’s essential to keep snow from blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle.

Windows: Clear all snow and ice from the windscreen before driving. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing.

Locks: A squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up.

Warm clothing: Your car may be as warm as toast on the inside but if you have to step outside, you could be in trouble if you have not got any warm clothing with you.

Always pack the following: warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots, a blanket to keep you warm if you get stuck. Take some food, chocolate, biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can. Always carry a fully charged mobile, and some old bits of carpet, or cat litter, to put under the tyres when stuck and a shovel to clear snow.

Axle tramp… what is it?

Axle tramp is bump steer with torque.

A ‘tramping’ axle is more common with a leaf-sprung suspension than with independent or coil suspension, because the latter types have widely-based control arms or wishbones to control axle rotation. When you feed engine braking torque into an axle, the axle tries to rotate with the force that’s turning or stopping the wheels.

A leaf spring has to perform the double duty of suspending the axle and resisting torque, so can suffer ‘wind up’ when there is a great deal of torque applied, letting the axle rotate forward or backward a little then whipping it back into line. A severely tramping axle losses contact with the road and can result in loss of vehicle control.

Axel Hop… Whats is it?

Axle hop is bump steer gone mad.

Axle hop is an uncontrolled movement of the axle, usually brought about by inadequate or ‘tired’ shock absorbers trying to cope with a series of bumps or corrugations. In cases of sever axle hop, the 4WD will ‘dance’ all over the road and become uncontrollable.

Bump steer, axle hop and axle tramp can be experienced virtually any 4WD if you push hard enough on rough roads, so it’s important to know your vehicle’s degree of axle control. Driving technique – minimizing savage acceleration and braking – can reduce axle misbehavior.

Another value technique is to find the ‘sweet spot’ when running on corrugated roads – that speed which provides the best ride and good directional control.

Bump Steer… What is it?

‘Bump steer’ is a term used by road testers, but often misunderstood by some of the people who use it – let alone readers to interpret it. Bump steer describes a steering effect caused by suspension movement as the vehicle passes over undulations.
Bump steer is often confused with axle hop or axle tramp.

The classic bump steer effect is noticed in leaf-sprung 4WDs, because a leaf spring is longer when flat than it is when positively or negatively curved. The lengthening and shortening takes place all the time there is suspension movement and that fore and aft movement causes the axles to change their ideal right angle position across the chassis.

If you look at a leaf-sprung 4WD from the side as it moves over a hump, you can see the slight rearward movement of the axles. The more the suspension deflects, the greater the angling effect of the axles and the more self-steering effect on the vehicle.

When bump steer is more noticeable in leaf-sprung vehicle, you can have bump steering effect with coil-sprung axles, because their pivot on control arms which move through arcs, which can impart some steering effect.

Bump steer is often noticed at the front of 4WDs that have a ‘live’ front axle, rather than independent, wishbone suspension. Because the two front wheel are linked by a tubular axle beam and a steering tie rod, when one wheel encounters a bump, the reaction is fed to the other wheel.

Bump steer, axle hop and axle tramp can be experienced virtually any 4WD if you push hard enough on rough roads, so it’s important to know your vehicle’s degree of axle control. Driving technique – minimizing savage acceleration and braking – can reduce axle misbehavior.

Another value technique is to find the ‘sweet spot’ when running on corrugated roads – that speed which provides the best ride and good directional control.

In Memory Of G-Man

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After a long fight with cancer Gman passed away this morning.

One of the offroading family that will be missed by all!

Graeme Smith
13/3/1984 – 19/01/2011

Parents pay tribute to tragic Boosbeck man

TRIBUTES are pouring in for young Teesside bone cancer victim Graeme Smith, who has lost a brave battle against the disease.

TRIBUTES are pouring in for young Teesside bone cancer victim Graeme Smith, who has lost a brave battle against the disease.

Graeme, 26, of Margrove Road, Boosbeck, near Guisborough, died in Teesside Hospice on January 19.

His heartbroken parents Donald and Elizabeth Smith told the Gazette he was a “real outdoor type”.

Graeme had already beaten aplastic anaemia as a six-year-old by having a donor bone marrow transplant at Newcastle RVI.

Dad Donald, 64, said Graeme – who loved off-road trials motorbiking and driving his Land Rover off-road – began to complain of backache last July.

After seeing his doctor, he was referred to Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital for a scan, which showed a significant mass in his pelvic area.

Donald said: “Later, he was diagnosed with cancer and it was very aggressive, but he fought it very bravely.”

Mum Elizabeth, 52, said: “He was a real fighter and fought it right to the end.”

Graeme, who was single, had many friends in the East Cleveland area and also on Teesside.

He was a member of Guisborough Motor Club and the NE 4X4 Club.

He was born in Middlesbrough in 1984, but had lived in Boosbeck all his life.

Recently, he had been a bathroom and kitchen fitter’s mate, working for Welham’s of Marske.

But he had also worked at Gisborough Hall as a bar worker for some time previously.

Dad Donald said: “He had met a lot of people in his work and was well liked.”

Graeme attended Lockwood Primary School, the former Warsett Comprehensive School at Brotton and then Cleveland Technical College, where he studied electrical engineering.

Afterwards, he studied the same subject at Teesside University at a higher level.

Mum Elizabeth said: “He was very hard working and always gave of his best.

“He would do anything for anyone and had lots of friends.

“He still had to visit Newcastle RVI for periodic tests on his bone marrow transplant. As a child he had to have full body radiotherapy before having his transplant.

“It’s possible that his earlier disease may have had a link with his cancer, but doctors aren’t sure.

“He will be very sadly missed by all the family, local people and his friends.”

As well as his parents, Graeme leaves an older sister Rachel, 29, brother-in-law Michael and other close relatives, including his niece Beth, 10, and nephew Evan, three.

His funeral was at 11.30am 28th January 2011 at Boosbeck’s St Aidan’s Church, followed by burial in the local cemetery.

His funeral was at 11.30am 28th January 2011 at Boosbeck’s St Aidan’s Church, followed by burial in the local cemetery.