With winter here, conditions on the roads will worsen, making journeys more difficult and putting increased wear and tear on your car. Particularly for you daily commuters, driving in a winter wonderland doesn’t have to be driving in a winter ‘worryland’ as there’s much you can do to avoid a winter car breakdown, whatever your car’s age. So, it’s time to get proactive, before the weather beats you to it, and stay one step ahead by following advice from the experts.
There’s some sound recommendations on GEM Motoring Assistand the article outlines 5 simple steps to avoid the winter driving blues. It’s easy to follow and will be as good for your car’s health as your 5-a-day fruit and vegetables are good for you.
Generally, it’s important to take care of the following:
Top of the list to prevent a winter breakdown has to be getting your battery checked. All batteries go through extra strain in cold, wet weather and probably won’t survive from the daily bashing they’ll receive if they’re not in peak condition. Battery failure is one of the biggest causes of winter breakdowns and you’re likely not to get off the drive in the morning if your battery is below par! Worse still, you might get stranded somewhere away from home when it’s cold and dark and your battery is as flat as a pancake. Yes, you can always call out the breakdown truck but remember that, in winter, they’re probably very busy attending to other unfortunate motorists just like you!
Up there with battery problems is running out of fuel. There’s a good video and follow-up article on Money Supermarketthat talks about the increased likelihood of running out of fuel in the winter, usually miles from a fuel stop. It’s potentially harder to estimate journey times and fuel consumption in the winter with traffic jams and detours caused by accidents and bad weather. So, always keep topped up with fuel way before you really need to.
Servicing and antifreeze
It’s a good idea to get your car serviced regularly and certainly before the winter sets in. When you get this done, make sure that the garage has topped up your antifreeze levels. It may sound like child’s play but inadequate antifreeze can wreak havoc on your engine and cause untold damage.
It’s really important to have good strong gripping tyres in the winter too. There’ll be ice, sludge, mud and grime all over the roads and your tyres need to be able to cope with everything thrown at them, which they won’t if the tread’s not sufficiently deep. You can even get special winter tyres fitted to your vehicle to stay on the road (literally) when the weather turns nasty and your local garage will be able to advise on this.
A potential problem for motorists is main headlights (and other peripheral lights such as brake lights, indicators and fog lights) not working properly either because of faulty bulbs or through an electrical fault. So, get all your lights checked and make sure everything’s working properly – you know it makes sense!
To maximise visibility in poor weather conditions, having a clear windscreen is critical, both inside if the windows are misted up or icy and, of course, outside. Don’t set off until your inside windows are fully clear. When you do move away, you’ll need your wipers to be at their most efficient when driving in heavy rain or when mud and dirty water get thrown up onto your windscreen by vehicles in front of you. Keep your washer bottle filled as nothing’s worse than having a smeary windscreen causing you to struggle to see the road ahead and your washer bottle is empty.
Your wipers need to be at their best so get the blades checked, or even renewed, to reduce the risk of them splitting and becoming inefficient. Also, have the brackets and fixings checked to minimise the risk of mechanical failure.
As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed and, for those who were in the Guides or Scouts, the motto ‘Be prepared’ has a lot of truth in it when it comes to winter driving. Finally, it could be that, despite all your best efforts, it’s not always possible to avoid a winter breakdown, so ensure that you carry essentials such as drinks, snacks, blankets and extra clothing as well as your mobile phone and car charger. Don’t forget to keep your fuel levels high because, if you get stuck, you’ll be able to warm the car for longer by keeping the engine running while waiting for the mechanic/tow truck.