The clocks are going forward, which means days will soon be longer than nights for the next six months and dark winter mornings spent scraping the windscreen are now a distant memory.
It’s time to dust off your leathers and make sure your motorbike is in tip top condition for the warmer weather ahead, whilst not neglecting your car in the meantime. This week’s tips from IAM RoadSmart will help you prepare yourself and your motor for those brighter days ahead.
It’s tempting to think if Spring has sprung then drier weather is on its way, but let’s not forget April showers. Rainwater can make the road surface slippery so remember to double your following distance and allow yourself more time to stop in these weather conditions. Make sure you give yourself plenty of space, and always ensure your tyre tread stays well within legal limits, as the tyres wet weather performance deteriorates below 3mm. Tyres may not have weathered well over the winter period so always check before setting off on your journey.
Share the road with motorcycles
The warmer sees more motorcyclists taking to the roads to enjoy the freedom that motorbikes can offer. Because of their speed and size, motorcycles may quickly come in and out of your blind spots. Not checking your blind spot is one of the most common causes of incidents involving motorcycles and cars. Always take a second look, specifically for the bike!
Lookout for potholes
Spring should also be known as pothole season. In places that snow and ice have dominated the winter months, the spring thaw can cause major potholes. It’s always recommended to avoid hitting them if you can, but if you can’t or it would be dangerous to miss it, don’t brake while travelling over them. Slow down, release the brake before impact and go over the pothole. A rolling wheel over the pothole can help to reduce the force on your tyres If you hit a particularly bad pothole you may have caused damage, make sure you check this as soon as is safely possible.
Clear out those coats, boots, scarves and bags that took up permanent residence during the winter months. They add weight as well as taking up space, and surplus weight means higher fuel consumption – and let’s face it we could all do with saving that.
Cut down on the salt
Modern cars are much less prone to rust than their forbearers, but corrosion-causing salt from gritted roads can build up under the wheel arches and the suspension. Use a hose pipe to flush the wheel arches clean; if you have a pressure washer, even better. If not, try washing the arches after driving on wet roads – the mud and grit will have softened. The neighbours might think you’re peculiar, but you’ll reduce the risk of expensive repairs.
Test your vision
The demister puts a film of grime from traffic fumes on the inside of the windscreen which can spread bright sunshine into a blinding glare. Get the screen squeaky clean with water and detergent, dry with a microfibre cloth and crystal-clear vision will be restored. Don’t forget the other windows; clean screens rarely mist up, so you’ll need the heated rear window far less – another fuel saver.
Remember to look for signs of wear and tear on your wiper blades. Windscreen wash rather than just water can help with your visibility also, it will cut through the grime with less effort
Keep hay fever at bay
Most cars have pollen filters, but they need changing periodically to remain efficient. Look in your handbook to find out how to get to the filter and if it looks bad, change it now. Some very good after-market filters are available online, often with a charcoal layer to filter out pollutants as well as pollen.
Don’t get hot and bothered
Air conditioning is a benefit as the temperature rises, but it contains a special gas which can slowly leak away. If it gets too low, the air-con will blow warm instead of cold. Test it by turning the heater control to minimum, the heater fan to maximum and make sure the air-con is turned on (i.e. not in “eco” mode). If you don’t feel an icy blast after a couple of minutes, the system may need “re-gassing”; a simple job which most garages have the equipment to do.
Watch out for wildlife
Springtime sees more animals being born into the world so be extra careful when driving on rural roads – slow down and don’t rev your engine if you see an animal. The most important way to avoid collisions with wildlife is to observe the speed limit and slow down even more where you may find wildlife. Give yourself more time to brake if an animal darts in your path and pay attention to those wildlife crossing signs.
Richard Gladman, Head of Driving and Riding Standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “Spring is the time of year when many things change, including the weather. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather, and sometimes these extreme weather changes can occur within the same day.
“As a motorcyclist myself I would always recommend dressing for the occasion but be prepared for changes, too cold, too hot or too wet are not great for concentration so the ability to add or remove a layer will help.”