If you've just moved to Victoria, and you're looking through the used cars Melbourne has on offer, it pays to keep winter in mind! It's easy to forget that Australia isn't always beautiful and sunny - especially if you're road-tripping as a tourist. If only it was all sunny coastlines, and sun-baked outback! But, unfortunately, when driving Victoria's country roads - especially in the Victorian Alps - there are a few things motorists need to do to ensure their safety, and the safety of their passengers. Today, we've put together a guide to help you out, and give you some key pointers!
Limiting your speed is a good idea regardless of the conditions, but during winter speeding is even more dangerous than usual. Wet or frozen roads can fundamentally alter the way your car behaves, limiting your handling, or increasing the time it takes for you to slow down or stop. Because of this, it's a good idea to stay twice as far behind a car ahead of you than you normally would. Give yourself extra time for travelling so you don't feel tempted to rush anywhere - the last thing you need is to not make it there at all.
Be gentle with your car
A major hazard during winter is black ice - thin layers of frozen water on the road that are hard to see. Try to steer clear of making any sudden turns or sharp stops, as handling your vehicle in abrupt movements makes you more likely to slide. If you do lose traction and start to slide, resist the urge to slam the brakes as this will only lock your tyres and continue the slide. Instead, slowly lift your foot off the accelerator, and rely on the steering wheel alone to navigate the ice, trying to do as little as possible until you are clear of it.
Examine your car before you leave
Don’t forget to make sure your car is in good condition before leaving! Winter roads are much safer when you have proper tread on your tyres, especially if your tires are getting old. Keep a spare tyre on you, make sure everything is in good working order, and that nothing has iced over.
When it comes to tyre pressure, be aware that very low tyre pressure is bad no matter what the weather is, as it makes you more prone to punctures. However, very high tyre pressure is better suited for sunny, dry conditions than the wet and cold. Driving on tyres that are at maximum pressure increases your chances of aquaplaning - or sliding - in wet conditions. If you have adequate tread depth, you probably don't need to worry either way.
Use snow chains if you need to
In some parts of the Victorian Alps you'll be required to have snow chains in your car, if not on your wheels. Snow chains greatly aid your traction in slippery conditions, so it's vital to know how to put them on. You need to put the chains on the drive-wheels of the car, so knowing if your vehicle is a forward-wheel or rear-wheel drive is important. If you are using a 4WD, you need to fit chains to all your tyres. It's also important to note that you can only drive around 40km/h when you have snow chains attached to your car, but chances are if you've needed to put them on you won't want to be going any faster!
Make sure your visibility is good
Your windscreen is more likely to fog in cold weather, making it harder for you to see. Make sure you have working air conditioning that can eliminate the problem. The second way to keep your visibility up in poor conditions is to remember to use your headlights on low-beam when you need to, and use your hazard lights when you need to pull over.
Find the car that has what you need
When you're planning for winter travel, especially in Australia's rural or mountainous areas, you need a car that has what it takes. If you're looking at cars for sale Victoria-wide, talk to the experts at your local car dealer today. We'll see that you have the essentials to make it through those tough treks of ice and snow. Don't hesitate, come in and talk to us today!