While we have a general idea of when winter weather sets in, the great British climate means it can creep up on you at a moment’s notice – and this is especially true with more frequent occurrences of flash floods and storms over the past few years.
The Highways Agency suggests that you put your car in for a full service before the winter months, just to make sure that everything is up to legal and safe standards. Many garages offer winter inspection packages so shop around for deals. Qualified car mechanics can check things like cooling systems, brakes and fluid level, disc and drum, shock absorbers, steering condition and other vitals.
But you can also help by maintaining their good work – follow the tips below to help prepare your car in advance:
In wet or icy conditions you need better tread on your tyres. Ensure that they are inflated to your manufacturer’s recommended pressure and that you have at least 3mm of tread depth.
Most batteries last for around 2-4 years but don’t leave it to chance. Check that yours is fully charged and replace it if you are in any doubt.
Check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator. The last thing you want in winter is your radiator to break down!
With regular use, windscreen wipers can wear down so make sure you check the blades regularly. If they look at all worn replace them so that they’ll last for the duration of the cold and rainy spell. Also include winter additive in the windscreen wiper water bottles.
Windows and mirrors
Lower light levels in winter can significantly reduce visibility. Don’t make matters worse by allowing smears to build up, especially on the windscreen. Also clean off any snow and ice and make sure windows are de-misted before you set off.
As well as keeping lights clear from snow, ice and a build-up of spray make sure that you check that the bulbs are working to full light strength. If in doubt change them and make sure you carry spares – we have some more suggestions for keeping your car lights well maintained on this website.
The Highways Agency and the government’s Think! Road Safety campaign also recommend that you carry an emergency kit with you. This should include:
· Ice scraper and de-icer
· Warm clothes and a blanket
· A pair of boots
· First-aid kit
· Battery jump leads
· A shovel if it’s likely to snow
· Food and a warm drink in a flask for particularly cold weather
· Sunglasses to protect from glare caused by low winter sun