With Britain being hit by an arctic blast this week, motorists are being told to take special precautions on the road in order to stay safe.
There are also warnings about damage you could be doing to your car with one innocuous mistake when it snows.
By making this relatively small error with your window wipers, many drivers could face pricey repair bills in the region of £400.
Simple mistake: Drivers are being told not to make this common error when trying to clear snow from their car, like this Volvo in North Yorkshire, where up to 10cm of snow could fall on higher ground as temperatures drop across the UK this week
Trico, which claims to have been producing vehicle window wipers for 102 years, says motorists are running the risk of expensive repair work if they use their wiper blades to remove a heavy layer of snow that has settled on the screen following a flurry.
Many are tempted to let the wipers clear the windscreen for them, rather than embracing the chilly conditions to shift the snow by hand using a scraper.
Choose to neglect this advice and it can prove costly.
Trico explained to This is Money that the weight of the snow and slush sitting on top of the blades and glass is heavy for the wipers to move.
When you activate the blades with the switch in the car, the additional strain on the motor and mechanism from the weight of the snow can cause one of a series of linkages in the wipers to break.
As a result, sometimes the stud at the end of the wiper arm gets stripped, or there’s damage to the linkage pivot balls.
Owners of models fitted with automatic wipers, which activate when sensors identify rain or snow on the screen, have also been urged to leave their window wipers in the manual setting during this period of snowfall.
How costly could it be to use your wipers to clear snow?
Wiper blades aren’t hugely expensive, in the grand scheme of things.
Halfords sells them for anything between £3 and £39.
However, it could get costly if there is damage caused to the wiper transmission.
Car maintenance experts MotorEasy said this kind of repair costs, on average, £414 including parts, labour and VAT.
In some cases it can be up to £730, it said.
Senior product and brand manager at the wiper manufacturer, Sam Robinson, explained: ‘Of all the parts of a car which are subject to wear and tear, windscreen wipers are perhaps the most fragile.
‘Manufactured from thin rubber, they are designed to operate smoothly on the windscreen without damaging the surface of glass, yet despite their fragility they are often required to work under the harshest weather conditions, particularly in the height of winter.’
He recommends that motorists always use scrapers to remove snow, and adds that wipers should also not be used to clear settled ice.
‘Using your wipers to try and de-ice your windscreen can severely damage the wiper blade itself, and trying to remove snow that has settled on the windscreen can overload the entire arm and wiper motor, potentially causing the linkage to snap or the wiper motor to burn out.’
A three-wheel Reliant Robin in the snow off the A6 near the village of Shap, Cumbria
He added: ‘Severely worn or damaged blades can also damage a car windscreen which will, in turn, be costly to a motorist.
‘Any damage, even slight, to the glass directly in the line of vision of the driver is likely to mean an MOT failure.
‘Replacement glass costs considerably more than a pair of wiper blades.’
And he’s right. The average windscreen replacement costs between £150 and £200, depending on the vehicle.
Plenty of motor insurance policies cover damage to glass, though making a claim is likely to cost you a no-claims discount and could push premiums higher.
Mr Robinson concluded: ‘Once you have effectively cleared snow and ice from the windscreen, your wipers can be used as normal whilst either raining or snowing and will help keep you seeing clearly whilst driving throughout winter.’
The rules about snow on your car
The Highway Code Rule 229 states you must be able to see at all times while driving, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows, as well as what might fall off into the path or on other road users.
However, motorists commonly neglect the rule, and run the risk of causing an accident due to a lack of visibility.
A tweet sent by Northern Polic`e on Tuesday showed one motorist’s car being driven on the A9 at Thurso, Caithness, in the Highlands in the early hours with a fraction of the windscreen cleared of snow:
The car’s rear and side windows were completely covered with snow while only a small area had been cleared on the front windscreen.
Police issued the driver with a fixed penalty notice and warned other motorists to clear snow and ice from their vehicles before setting off.
They posted pictures of the snowy car on social media and said: ‘Winter has been biting for most of us this week, which means it is more important than ever that your vehicle is suitably prepared for the roads.
Failure to comply with the Highway Code rule can result in £60 fine and 3 points on your licence if you’re caught with snow obstructing visibility out of any vehicle windows.
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