Winter Driving Tips
Winter is definitely here, so to ensure you can drive safely through the colder months, it is worth thinking about preparing your vehicle now. Temperatures have started to hit freezing overnight, making the morning commute to work potentially hazardous. Follow the key advice below and you’ll be well prepared for snow, icy roads and driving during flooding this winter.
Perform a FULL Vehicle Health Check
Firstly, it is well worth doing a full vehicle health check before the cold weathers starts. You may not notice any issues at the moment, but cold weather can cause potentially minor issues during the warmer months to worsen very quickly. There are a few checks you can perform yourself, and a few which you should ask a qualified mechanic to check for you.
1. Check Your Tyres
Dealing with slippery road surfaces can be a very real danger in winter, so check that you have plenty of tread left on your tyres. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyres, but it is better to seek new tyres once the depth gets below 3mm. This gives you the best chance to grip on icy surfaces, as the tread will wear more quickly in the winter, with more grit and detritus on the road. Check the tyre pressure, too; your vehicle handbook or manual will contain the recommended pressure levels and you can top up using the air pump at your local petrol station.
2. Are All Your Lights Working?
As the nights draw in, you will be spending more time behind the wheel during the hours of darkness, so ensure all your lights are working. Get someone else to sit in the car and ask them to turn on hazards, indicators, full and dipped beams and reversing lights one by one as you walk around the vehicle.
3. Inspect Under the Bonnet
You should also check the levels under the bonnet. When the vehicle is cool and parked on a flat surface, open the bonnet and check the screen wash, oil, antifreeze, and brake fluid levels. If they need topping up, double check that you have the correct fluid before doing so; this could save you hundreds of pounds in engine repairs. You can also ask a mechanic to do this if you are not sure.
4. Get a Mechanic to Check Your Brakes and Battery
A mechanic should check elements like your brakes and your battery.. Your battery will be used much more heavily in the winter as you use systems such as lights and heating more often, and most batteries will need to be replaced every five years or so. Make sure to ask your mechanic whether yours needs replacing, as it is far better to do so now than to find out you need a new one on a freezing night at the side of a dark road.
Always Be Prepared
1. Create a Winter Car Kit
Keep all the essential items in the boot of your car in case of an clemency. Always have spare screen wash (with antifreeze), de-icer, a scraper, a blanket and a shovel so you don’t get caught out.
2. Leave in Plenty of Time
When setting off for journeys in the winter, leave enough time to start the car, clear all ice and snow from your windows with a scraper and de-icer, and allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Stick to more major routes that are more likely to have been cleared. Pull away very gently, in second gear to avoid wheel-spin on icy surfaces. In addition, remember to leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front – especially on hills. If you have to use your brakes, apply them gently. Release the brakes and de-clutch if the car skids.
Be prepared for winter – book your vehicle in for a full winter health check now, so you can drive safely and confidently this winter.