Tips for driving in the snow

NRMA Driving Tips - snow chains
With the mountains glistening with fresh snow, now’s the time to dust off your thermals and wax your edges. However, before you hit the slopes, there’s the small matter of driving to them. Here’s how to smooth your way to winter play.

Yay! I’m going to the snow! How do I prepare my car?
Visit your local car servicing centre and inform them that you will be driving to the snow. The mechanic should check your tyres, brakes, battery, engine and windscreen. The mechanic may drain and replace the coolant in your car’s engine with a stronger mix of anti-freeze, if required. For information on coolant (anti-freeze) and engine oil specifications, consult your owner’s manual.

How do I prevent the windscreen fogging up?
Good vision from the car is paramount, so renew windscreen wipers in advance to allow them to bed-in. Check the air conditioning system (AC) is working properly before leaving and use it to demist the windscreen. Cool air flow to the face helps keep you alert when travelling in a warm car. However, do not use the AC to extend your driving times beyond sensible rest periods. Take a ten minute break every two hours.

Additionally putting newspaper on the outside of your windscreen overnight, secured by the windscreen wipers, will prevent ice forming on the windscreen when it is parked overnight.

Do I have to put anti-freeze in my car’s engine? How important is this?
Refer to the instructions in your owner’s manual.

Should I get my battery checked?
Certainly. Cold weather does contribute to battery failure. This is most important if your car’s battery is a few years old. In addition, an assessment of your car’s charging system is also worth considering, to give your alternator, battery terminals, and connections an important check up. NRMA mobile mechanics or your local service centre can carry out these checks for you.

What’s the best way to slow down in the snow?
Use gears instead of brakes to slow down and watch for icy patches on shady parts of the road, through cuttings, on bridges and on winding stretches where ice may have formed over a thin layer of snow. Take care to drive smoothly, with no sudden stops and starts or sudden turns.

Does my car need to use snow chains when I go to the snow?
When driving in the Snowy Mountains National Park and other snow affected areas, snow chains must be carried. With the exception of 4WD vehicles, authorities require snow chains to be fitted when conditions demand. Authorised officers may advise if chains are required. Although 4WD’s are exempt from using snow chains, the RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) recommends that 4WD owners (including sport utility vehicles, off-road vehicles, and all wheel drive vehicles – except those with vehicles equipped with winter tyres), carry chains and install them when directed. The vehicle’s traction when driving on ice and in snow will become greatly improved.
When do I know when I have to put snow chains on?
In the Alpine region possible snow and ice risk sections are identified with yellow lane line marking and black and yellow signposting. See the RMS Geared site for more useful information.

How do I get the snow chains on?
You only have to fit chains to two driving wheels: front wheel drive vehicles, fit to front wheels; rear wheel drive vehicles, fit to rear wheels; and four wheel drive vehicles if using chains, fit to front wheels. For all wheel drive vehicles refer to the owner’s manual. When fitting chains, pull off to the left of the road as far as possible and use a chain fitting bay. Do not use a jack to lift a vehicle to put on snow chains as in icy conditions, your car might slide off the jack. All snow chains can be fitted without the need to lift the vehicle. Make sure the inner and outer hooks are securely fastened. Tie the loose ends of the chains down to prevent damage to mudguards. After you have driven the first 50 to 100 metres, stop and check that your snow chains are still tight.

Does my NRMA Roadside Assistance cover me if I go to the snow?
Yes, NRMA Roadside Assistance can assist you regardless of where you are in Australia. We will attempt to salvage your vehicle from the situation without calling for a tow truck, provided your vehicles Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is within the terms of your subscription package. If you are in a location inaccessible to normal two-wheel drive vehicles or require towing equipment, we can still help; however a commercial call-out fee will be charged.

I am an NRMA Member. What do I do if I get stuck in the snow?
Should your vehicle become stuck in the snow, simply give us a call on 13 11 11 and we can assist.

Do you recommend me towing other cars I find stuck on snowy/icy roads?
Under no circumstances should you attempt this, as apart from a high safety risk, you may find yourself ending up in the same situation. If the vehicle stuck is covered by NRMA Roadside Assistance, we can provide towing assistance. Simply call 13 11 11. If the vehicle in question is not covered, (and the vehicles owner is not a member) a towing service can still be organised. However, a commercial call out fee will be charged by the local towing company for the service.

What is there to do at the snow?
You shouldn’t need too much help with this one! As well as skiing, snowboarding, sightseeing, there are plenty of other activities. Also, remember if you are looking for a great place to stay without breaking the bank, check out NRMA Jindabyne Holiday Park where NRMA Members get great discounts.

Now, go forth in safety to shred the gnar like the cowboys you are!*

*Translation: Enjoy the mountain.