As winter approaches, it’s important to be prepared for the poor weather conditions that can affect the performance and reliability of our vehicles.
We’ve prepared a Winter Vehicle Checklist to be fully prepared for getting about in the colder months, but here are a few tips every driver should know ahead of driving in adverse weather conditions.
Check your tyres
It seems obvious to say, but the only part of your car making contact with the road is the tyres. It’s imperative that they are able to grip the road properly.
Checking the tread depth
The legal limit to tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, however in wet conditions it is recommended to have a tyre tread depth of at least 3mm.
This can be tested by inserting a 20p piece into the edge of the tread. If you can see the edge of the outer rim of the coin, your tread is not deep enough. This should be done across 75% of the width of the tyre, in three places around the tyre.
While tyre pressure should always be set at the manufacturer’s recommended level all year round, it’s a good idea to check your tyre pressure ahead of winter when driving conditions can become less than ideal.
If in doubt, it’s always advisable to take your car to a mechanic or tyre fitter to check for you.
Check your battery
A flat battery on a cold winter’s day is every driver’s nightmare scenario, yet your battery is under increased stress in the cold. It charges more slowly, power output drops, and you’re more likely to be using it for things like wipers, heaters and heated seats.
It’s recommended that you replace your car battery every five years, however if you’ve noticed your car struggling to start first time, it might be best to check or replace your battery before winter sets in.
Top up on antifreeze
The clue is in the name – Antifreeze is very important during winter, so make sure you top up your car with the correct concentration (usually one part water to one part antifreeze).
Keep an eye on your screen wash
If you don’t have the right concentration of screen wash to water, you risk your washer fluid freezing up on especially cold days, which could affect your visibility on the road and be dangerous. The same is true if you run out of screen wash fluid, so make sure it’s topped up, and keep some spare water and screen wash in your car during winter.
Stock up and be prepared
Our downloadable checklist also includes some items you shouldn’t hit the road without. Don’t get caught short without your trusty ice scraper and de-icer spray to get you started on a cold winter’s morning!
It might seem unlikely that you’ll get stranded, but if you do, it’s just as important to have supplies like blankets, food, water, a shovel and high visibility vest stored away in the boot of your car.
Controlling your car in snow and ice
In the event of snow or ice on the roads this winter, make sure you change your driving habits to stay safe and in control. The best way to do this is to drive more slowly than usual and not make any sudden braking or steering manoeuvres.
If you do get caught in a rear wheel skid, where the back of your car slides out from behind you, remember to avoid slamming on the brakes, as this can make the skid worse. Instead, look where you want to go and let your hands follow so that you steer into the skid (for example, if your back wheels are skidding out to your right, steer your front wheels to the right). As you get grip back, straighten back up to avoid overcompensating into another skid.
For car owners, the best thing to do ahead of winter is to get a check-up and service, but at the very least, make sure you download and complete our Winter Vehicle Checklist. If it gets really cold, you might be glad you did!