Top Tips To Get Your Horsebox Or Trailer In Perfect Condition For The Winter Winter opens up a host of different equine opportunities. Cross-country events, novice shows and qualifiers for Winter Championships. Although the driving conditions can be a bit trickier, using your car and trailer in winter can be safe and fun if you follow a few common-sense safety tips. Have a mechanic check the following items on your vehicle: Battery Antifreeze Wipers and windshield washer fluid Ignition system Thermostat Lights Flashing hazard lights Exhaust system Heater Brakes Oil level (if necessary, replace existing oil with a winter grade oil or the SAE 10w/30 weight variety) Make sure your tyres have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some European jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs. Keep a windshield scraper and small broom for ice and snow removal. Maintain at least a half tank of fuel during the winter season. Plan long trips carefully. Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions. Always travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person. Dress warmly. Wear layers of loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Carry food and water. Store a supply of high energy "munchies" and several bottles of water. Winter Vehicle Kit Keep these items in your vehicle: Spare Mobile Phone Charger Flashlights with extra batteries First aid kit with pocket knife Necessary medications Several blankets Sleeping bags Extra newspapers for insulation Plastic bags (for sanitation) Matches Extra set of mittens, socks, and a wool cap Rain gear and extra clothes Small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels Small shovel Small tools (pliers, wrench, screwdriver) Booster cables Set of traction mats Cards, games, and puzzles Brightly coloured cloth to use as a flag Canned fruit and nuts Can opener Bottled water Traction As road surfaces become wet, vehicle traction decreases by about half and on ice-covered roads, traction can be almost nil. Avoid any abrupt manoeuvres. Some towing vehicles have anti-lock brakes you must use continual pressure; don't lift up when these brakes pulsate. Drive smoothly and steadily. Slow down well before entering a curve. While applying brakes, use light and even pedal pressure. This light application should still let the wheels roll, so you can maintain control. If the curve is a constant radius, keep your speed steady through the turn. Decreasing-radius turns require that you slow down as you proceed; these are the trickiest. Increasing-radius turns allow you to accelerate lightly as you exit them. Ice Expect icy conditions any time, although water freezes at 0˚C. Ice can form on roads when the outside air temperature reaches 6˚C or lower. An important place to watch for this condition is on bridges. Bridge surfaces are exposed to the wind and cool off faster than the rest of the road. You should also prepare for icy conditions on roads through shaded areas where a cold wind can freeze a wet road surface. Black Ice Black ice, clear water that has frozen on black tarmac, usually forms below overpasses, on bridges, and exposed areas. Black ice commonly occurs in low, shaded areas and/or when the road surface starts to freeze at night Rain The first few minutes of a rain can be extra dangerous because of the slippery road surface caused by oil and rubber build-up; driving is especially hazardous until the surface contaminants wash away. Rain also may cause hydroplaning, which occurs when the tires can't channel the water away fast enough, causing them to start running on top of the water instead of on the road. Traction will be lost and a skid is likely unless you slow down. Fog Fog is usually found in low places or areas surrounded by trees, hills or mountains. Slow down and turn on your low-beam headlights wherever you encounter fog. Make sure you can stop within the distance that you can see ahead clearly. For speeds less than 40 mph, allow at least one second of travel time between yourself and the vehicle ahead for every 10 feet of your vehicle's length. At speeds over 40 mph and especially under unfavourable weather or road conditions, add one more second to the total; as conditions worsen, increase your space ahead. Mud Any time you drive off-road when it is wet or after it has been raining, prepare for mud. Some soil textures cause a vehicle to sink; others will make the surface like driving on ice. Try to keep your vehicle moving slowly and steadily forward in gear. If you feel the wheels start to spin and lose traction, let up on the accelerator slightly. This should allow the wheels to regain traction. If you stop in mud and try to restart quickly, you could dig the wheels deeper into the mud. If you do get stuck in mud, make sure your front wheels are pointed straight ahead and don't spin the wheels. If this fails, place some type of friction material under the wheels - straw, carpet, stones or anything with a rough surface. Call for help if you can't free the vehicle with these techniques Wind Anticipate wind gusts by looking for signs such as tree movements, dust or blowing snow or leaves. The best advice for driving in windy conditions is to slow down. When passing trucks, move slightly away from them whenever possible, as this reduces gust effects. One last tip: keep your fuel tank at least half full you don’t want to get stranded. Another reason for a full tank is that warm daytime temperatures will fill the empty space in the tank with moisture, which will condense during a cold night. This water will sink to the bottom and, sooner or later, rust out your tank or give running problems when the level gets low.
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