Winter in Germany now lives up to its name. Temperatures have been in the cellar for days and it has already snowed almost everywhere. To ensure that your car journey does not turn into a wild slide.
It all depends on the right tires
Would you like to trudge through deep snow in sandals or flip-flops?? Very likely not. Therefore, you should also make sure that your vehicle is equipped with tires suitable for winter conditions. In Germany you are even obliged to do this. This means that in the cold season you may only drive your car with winter or all-weather tires. The depth of the tread grooves is particularly important: they must be at least four millimeters deep. But more is better and safer!
If you are driving on unsuitable tires in winter, you risk a fine of at least 60 euros plus a penalty point in the Flensburg sin record. In the event of an accident, you may also face inconveniences with your insurance company. If you drive on heavily snow-covered slopes, it is advisable to put on snow chains.
A peephole is not enough
The temptation is great: a small peephole on the icy windshield is scratched free – and then the journey can begin. But beware, this time-saving option can quickly have serious consequences! Therefore, you must always make sure that all windows are free of snow and ice. Otherwise you could be fined ten euros. Cold fingers or a cold nose do not count as an excuse in this case!
Headlights, turn signals and taillights must be free of snow, as must the car roof. Driving off with a snow load on your car can lead to snow drifts. This in turn endangers other road users. If you are stopped with a “snow decoration” on your car, it can cost you a 25 euro fine. A fine of five euros is payable for driving with snow-covered license plates.
The best tools against snow and ice on your car are plastic scrapers with or without metal edge. Sharp objects, on the other hand, are not advisable as they can damage windows, rubber seals and paint.
To keep snow and ice off the car, it helps to at least cover the car windows with a film. The method of defrosting icy windows with hot water, on the other hand, is inadvisable. The large temperature differences can cause cracks to form in the glass or even cause the glass to shatter.
Misted-up car windows are cleared quite quickly by heating, blowers and air conditioning. However, you must not let the engine warm up during this time. Otherwise you could face a hefty fine of 80 euros.
Antifreeze and anti-freeze
A properly functioning windshield wiper system makes winter driving much easier. Therefore, you should make sure that the wiper blades on the front and rear windshields are in impeccable condition. When refilling windshield wiper fluid, it’s best to add antifreeze. When doing so, look at the dosage instructions of the respective manufacturer. Whatever antifreeze is left over can be carried in the car as a reserve bottle.
In the evening, respectively. after the last drive, it is advisable to operate the wiper/washer system of your vehicle. This will ensure that your windows are free of sharp grit and salts.
The cooling water system is also sensitive in winter. Make sure that it is protected for temperatures of up to minus 25 degrees Celsius. If the frost protection of your radiator is too low, the worst case scenario is engine damage.
Keep an eye on the juice and power dispensers
The fact that many cars break down in winter is primarily due to the car battery. It reacts particularly sensitively in the cold season. Low temperatures take their toll on batteries. At the same time, the battery is heavily stressed by the prolonged operation of the lighting system or the use of the seat heater. If your car battery is already a little weak in the chest before the winter months, a replacement is urgently advisable.
In addition, you should regularly check the oil level in winter. A higher load on the engine at low temperatures leads to higher revs. This can cause oil consumption to skyrocket.
Give rubber and care for it
Especially in icy temperatures, it is often the case that doors can hardly be opened. In most cases, this is because the sealing rubbers are frozen solid. Brute force only causes damage. To avoid this, you should treat door and tailgate seals with special care products. But be sure to follow the instructions on the care products. Not all door rubbers tolerate special treatment.
Door locks are easier to protect from freezing with universal spray or non-resinous oil. If it is already too late, special door lock de-icers can help. However, you should definitely deposit these outside your car – otherwise you will continue to be faced with frozen doors.
Let a light go on
Winter is not only a very cold season, but also a very dark season. This is why the right lighting on your vehicle matters. Make sure all headlights are working. It is advisable to switch on the lighting during the day, especially in dim light.
If you drive in built-up areas without dipped headlights when it is snowing and visibility is poor, you run the risk of being fined 35 euros. Out of town it is even more expensive, then up to 90 Euro are due – a penalty point on top of it.
Driving fun thanks to less gas
The pleasure of driving can often turn into a nasty slippery slope in winter. That’s why you should already exercise caution when starting off on the first few meters. On slippery roads it is usually worth starting in second gear. You should be careful with the accelerator pedal to avoid spinning wheels.
If you are on the road, it is advisable to drive in a wide gear and low RPM if possible. Avoid abrupt acceleration or braking – this minimizes the risk of your car suddenly swerving or going off the track. In general, anticipatory driving should be the golden rule in road traffic – this applies all the more in the winter months.
Braking is a skill
If you have a vehicle without an anti-lock braking system (ABS), it is advisable to disengage the clutch on slippery roads and only apply slight pressure to the brake pedal. In this way you avoid that the tires block and do not lose the complete adhesion. In curves or when the vehicle swerves, you need to react quickly and get off the brake. You can then steer the vehicle in the desired direction of travel in order to brake again.
If your car has ABS – as is now common practice – then you can brake and steer at the same time. You have to push the pedal down so that the anti-lock braking system can work properly. If the brake pedal hits you, keep calm: this is a sign of functioning ABS. If the pedal pulses during normal driving, it is very likely that your speed is too high for the road surface.
In every car there should be the legally required items for safety. This includes one high visibility vest per seat. Equally indispensable are a warning triangle and a valid first-aid kit. Winter tires with an Alpine symbol are also an absolute must.
In addition to the items mentioned above, it is advisable to have the following tools on board, especially in winter:
- Jumper cables
- Whisk or ice scraper
- Snow chains
- Wool or thermal blanket
- Thermos flask with warm drink
- charged powerbank
A jacket has risks
Our last tip is for all fashion-conscious drivers. When it’s freezing cold outside, many tend to keep their jackets on in the car. The reason is understandable: the car is not immediately comfortably warm. However, it is underestimated that this exposes you to unnecessary risks. The seat belts lose their effectiveness due to the thick jackets, as they are further away from the body.
With children, there is the additional risk factor that the belt may slip off, for example, at the shoulder, through the smooth fabric of the jacket, and thus also lose its effectiveness. Even if it seems difficult at first: It’s better to take off your thick winter coat before driving. You can turn up the heat a little for this one.