Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 - RACV Travel Insurance

VICTORIA’S peak transport advocate, RACV, has warned motorists driving diesel vehicles to ensure they have suitable Alpine blend diesel in their vehicle before heading to the snow fields.

RACV Manager Vehicles, Michael Case, said rather than filling the tank before leaving home, motorists should make sure they have enough fuel to get to the nearest town to the snow fields and then fill the tank when they get there. Service stations do not usually have the pumps labelled as Alpine blend, so if in doubt ask an attendant.

Mr Case said during the current extreme cold snap, RACV has had to rescue an increasing number of people stranded in snow field car parks because the standard diesel fuel would not flow properly due to the cold, and their vehicle would not start.

The vehicles have then had to be towed to the bottom of the mountain where the fuel can thaw out and the cars can be started.

It is reported temperatures at the mountain have dropped to -5.2 degrees with the low temperatures expected to continue over the next few days.

“We are concerned that people are getting stuck on top of the mountain in very cold weather and having to wait for a tow when simply using a suitable diesel fuel could save them the inconvenience,” said Mr Case.

“Conditions up there are severe at the moment and waiting for any length of time for a tow in a cold car is not pleasant.”

He said the problem had increased this year because newer, more fuel efficient diesel vehicles have a longer driving range so there has been less need for motorists to top up their fuel at service stations near the mountains, where Alpine blend diesel suitable for the local conditions is routinely sold.

Mr Case reminded motorists to take other simple measures to ensure their vehicle was prepared for the conditions by checking tyres, windscreen wipers, the battery, lights, brakes and heating and cooling.

“Poorly prepared vehicles, speeding and a failure to treat the icy conditions with respect can lead to accidents and damage to vehicles,” said Mr Case.

“When driving in the snow, drive to the conditions and take it easy. Even if the snow has been cleared, the road is still likely to be slippery and black ice is always a danger.”

Other tips for motorists in the snow include:

  • Lift wipers off the windscreen so they don’t stick;

  • Don’t apply the handbrake as it can freeze, simply select Park or leave the vehicle in gear and chock the wheels;

  • Warm the engine and defrost the windows before driving off;

  • For information on snowchains visit www.vicroads.vic.gov.au

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VICTORIA’S peak transport advocate, RACV, has warned motorists driving diesel vehicles to ensure they have suitable Alpine blend diesel in their vehicle before heading to the snow fields.

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