It’s getting chillier in the UK and if we’re in for anything like the weather we had this time last year, things are going to get positively Arctic.
An obvious concern is driving in these conditions. While keeping your distance from cars in front and fitting winter tyres are on the list of obvious winter driving to-dos, there’s a lot that can be said for keeping cabin conditions in perfect order before you’ve even set off.
According to Seat, certain cabin conditions can leave you in a similar state to drive as the Scottish drink-drive limit of alcohol. Let’s dive in…
What is meant by cabin conditions?
Temperature is the big focus with Seat’s top tips. It’s not just a case of setting the numbers and heading off: how you get to your desired temperature and what you set that number to is of the utmost importance.
Putting the blowers on, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t cost you any more either. It’s actually good for your car to get some heat blowing into the cabin – it’s another path via which the cooling system can get rid of engine heat.
An obvious one, too, is window clarity. Seat specifies mist but it goes without saying that you don’t want ice obscuring any of your windows. Get that air conditioning blasting the windscreen as you set off in cold conditions. That will help clear mist that can fast accumulate if it hasn’t already.
What are the best cabin conditions for driving?
Seat’s recommendation is a temperature of no more than 21.5ºC. Yes, that specific… How do you get to that? Getting your face blasted with hot air isn’t recommended.
Instead, Seat development and aerodynamics engineer Maria Garcia recommends an auto-warm setting with the air coming out at your feet. That way, by the time it gets into upper areas of the cabin it’s cooled slightly and is more an ambient temperature than a gust coming from the car.
It feels more natural, is more comfortable and is the best way of staying both warm and alert.
“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,” says Garcia.
The worrying part is just how much of an effect driving with an overly warm cabin can have.
“Driving with an interior temperature of 35°C is similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.5 g/l.”
How else can I get warm safely in my car?
Car seat warmers have been around for some time now, such that many cars will come fitted with them. In general, they’re the quickest way of getting warm as you get into a cold car. It’s advised you carefully regulate it, however. Once you’re warm, if your seat heaters have different settings, lower them. Excessive seat heater use isn’t advised.
Dress appropriately too. That doesn’t mean woolly hats and mountaineering gear. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Seat advises against full winter garbs given that they limit your movement. Gloves, in particular, will do the dexterity of your hands no favours.
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