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Safe Winter Driving

With winter now here, drivers need to prepare their cars as soon as possible for the inevitable drop in temperature following last year’s ‘Beast from the East’. With snow predicted for the UK, there are a few things you can do to ensure your car is safe. Statistics from insurers show that drivers are 20% more likely to be in a car accident during the winter months.

There are many things you can do to make sure you’re safe before setting off on a long journey, including cleaning your headlights, checking the weather and keeping a breakdown kit in your car just in case. However, there are more specific things you can do to your car to make sure you’re safe this winter.

Remember the dangers

In icy conditions, stopping distances can be up to ten times longer than on a dry road, so in the winter it’s even more important to get your brakes checked to ensure they’re in the best condition. As the main mechanism to reduce your speed, they should be the first thing to get checked and serviced.

Crucial winter checks

There are a few simple things that you can check if you’re heading out on a longer journey that will make sure your car can handle any unexpected delays.

• Screen wash – make sure it’s topped up and the jets are working

• Rubber – check your tyres and wiper blades

• Coolant/anti-freeze – check the level and top up if needed to avoid making your engine work harder in the cold weather

• Fuel – ensure you have plenty of fuel – delays can eat up fuel so always make sure you have more than enough

• Electrics – check your lights are all working so you can see no matter what the weather

• Oil – check the levels and top up if necessary

Winter Tyres

Making sure your car tyres have plenty of tread is very important. With the roads covered in snow and ice, it is critical that your tyres can grip effectively when you brake.

The best way to ensure your tyres are up to scratch is to fit winter tyres to your car. When temperatures dip below 7°C, the compound in normal tyres begins to harden and has the temperature continues to drop, grip gets increasingly worse. As well using a better suited tread pattern, Winter tyres use a different compound designed to not harden and deal with the low temperatures.

Get an air con regas

While the air con seems most useful in the summer, it’s just as important in the winter to keep the windscreen and windows clear. The air conditioning system in your car takes power directly from the engine and, over time, the refrigerant gas level will drop, so regular maintenance is important.

It is recommended that a car should have the air con regassed every two years so the system works properly, both for keeping the car warm or cold. The last thing you want is for the air con in your car to struggle to clear fogged-up windows throughout the winter so you can’t see properly.

Winter Check

Many garages offer a specialised ‘Winter Check’ service for your car. Services will differ but typically will include checks of the:

• Exhaust system

• Battery condition

• Wipers and washers

• Air conditioning system

• Antifreeze coolant strength and level

• Tyre condition

• Screen wash

• Brakes

• Lights and electrics

Any one of these, if not properly maintained, could cause issues if the roads become wet or icy.

Winter can make the roads difficult to drive, so it’s best to be equipped for it. By preparing your car for winter, you’re ensuring your safety as well as the safety of others. These are simple things to do to prepare for winter, especially if all you must do is book your car into the garage for a check.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any of your own to share? 

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