Winter Motoring Advice
Of all the seasons, winter requires the most care and preparation if you’re to stay safe and avoid a breakdown. The cold weather can wreak havoc on your vehicle so it is worth taking note of these preventative measures.
Useful advice for winter-proofing your car:
Antifreeze – Check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection. Antifreeze costs only a few pounds, but a frozen and cracked engine block will cost hundreds of pounds to repair.
Battery – The most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold – get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure. Use the starter in short five-second bursts if the engine doesn’t start quickly.
Fuel – Keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.
Lights – To make sure you can see and be seen clearly you should not only check and clean all lights regularly, but also carry spare bulbs.
Tyres – Should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.
Windscreen – Reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.
Screen wash – Use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing.
Locks and door seals – Stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.
Emergency kit – Keep an emergency kit in your car in case you break down and find yourself stuck out in the cold. Your kit should include boots, blankets, torch and batteries, first aid kit, jump leads, shovel, road atlas, de-icer and sunglasses (winter sun can be dazzling).
Get a timely service – You can address many of these tips in one go by having us perform a winter check on your vehicle. Many now offer special winter checks, including ensuring tyres are in good condition, mechanical parts are lubricated and essential lubricants topped up. Remember that keeping up-to-date with the recommended service schedule will help keep your car in good condition all year round and protect any warranty.
Before setting off:
• Get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car.
• Don’t drive off like a tank-commander, with a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen. Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer.
• Plan routes to favour major roads which are more likely to have been cleared and gritted.
• Put safety before punctuality when the bad weather closes in. Allow extra time for winter journeys but be prepared for the inevitability of being late for work.
Winter doesn’t officially begin until 21 December this year, but there is no time like the present to ensure that antifreeze is topped up, tyres and brakes are working well and your windscreen is clear.
Drivers needn’t wait for an official Met Office warning. If they follow our winter driving advice, their cars will be winter-ready – and this will make journeys safer for them, their passengers and other road users. Whatever the forecast for winter, drivers need be able to rely on their cars and make them as safe as possible.
Bill Fennell, Managing Director, Motor Codes