De-mystifying Winter driving myths: Top tips

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  • Setting an evenly distributed interior temperature of 21.5 °C is the key to safe, comfortable winter driving
  • To remove the mist from the windows you should point the air vents towards the glass and turn on the air conditioning on high for several minutes
  • Unlike air conditioning, heating the car does not consume any extra fuel or water

As we are about to enter our annual a cold snap, here is some advice and recommendations for greater comfort and safety when driving in cold weather. Getting it wrong is all too easy. According to the Barcelona-based vehicle manufacturer, SEAT, drivers who set an interior car temperature of 35°C will have reaction times comparable to someone nearing the drink drive limit. Another common mistake is drivers who fail to use the vehicle’s air conditioning system to de-fog the windows.

Here are a few tips on how to stay safe in the vehicle throughout Winter:

  1. The ideal travelling temperature

21.5 °C has been dubbed the ‘comfort temperature’. The climate control’s Auto setting automatically regulates the interior temperature. “It provides a balanced heat distribution: half of the warm air comes out at around 40 °C near your feet and cools by the time it reaches your upper body and head, keeping you more alert at the wheel”, explains Maria García, Development & Aerodynamics Department Engineer. “In fact, driving when the upper part of the body is extremely warm can cause drowsiness: “Driving with an interior temperature of 35°C is similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.5 g/l,” she warned.

2. How to de-mist the windows

The contrast between the low temperature on the exterior and a warmer vehicle interior makes the windows fog up. “When faced with this situation, you should turn the air conditioning all the way up and point the vents towards the windows and windscreen,” she added.

  1. Try not to wear full winter garb at the wheel

Gloves, coats and scarves tend to limit your freedom of movement, and therefore are a safety risk. “Wearing gloves is only recommended in exceptional cases when low temperatures can cause a loss of feeling in the hands at the wheel,” María pointed out.

  1. Heated seats to help the driver warm up quickly

Heated seats are the most effective way to get warm in the least time possible. This system provides even warmth in just three minutes. “They should be activated as soon as you get in the car and gradually regulated as you feel warmer. You should also avoid using them at high temperature for long periods.”

  1. Heat at no extra cost

Heating does not consume any extra fuel or water. The reason is, hot water generated by the motor is used for heating and it returns to the engine at a much lower temperature, so it actually benefits the engine radiator.