Winter driving

As we approach the colder winter months, we have compiled the most important components of your vehicle that you should be checking on to ensure a safe and smooth journey

Avoid dangerous driving as the conditions worsen with these helpful reminders


Travelling during the winter presents additional, yet unavoidable challenges especially during the run up to Christmas. But amongst the hustle and bustle, it is vital to keep a check on your vehicle and ensure it is safe to drive before each journey. Below we have outlined an important checklist to assist in avoiding an unpredictable breakdown, or even worse, an incident.

 

Winter tyres

Car tyres take on all weather conditions during the winter such as ice, snow, rain, sleet and more. They need to be prepared and within the safe legal limit of 1.6mm but ideally a recommended minimum of 4mm tread depth to get ample traction.

Keeping on top of worn out, damaged, punctured, flat or bald tyres could be the difference between a safe journey and a dangerous one.

As such, winter tyres could provide an even safer driving experience once the temperatures plummet and adverse weather conditions come into play.

Winter tyres are not mandatory but could be essential to helping you keep control when the roads get icy. They have deeper groves providing better grip, helping you maintain full contact with the road and reducing skidding. Whilst it is not a requirement for all vehicles to have winter tyres, it depends on the driver and their comfortability driving in icy conditions.

Equipment

There are many situations where you will need to carry extra equipment in your car in order to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

During winter months, useful items could include for things such as de-icer, ice scraper, cloth, blanket, torch and phone charger. Each item can play an important role should you find yourself broken-down or involved in an incident.

Windscreen wipers

A small, easily forgotten about component of a vehicle, yet very important.

Your vision is vital when behind the wheel of a vehicle to ensure that you do not miss anything such as potential hazards.

Checking your wipers function properly and are not damaged or worn should play a role in your recommended daily vehicle checks. You should replace them immediately if they are no longer fit for purpose.

When the temperature gets colder, adverse weather such as ice, snow, sleet, or hail more often present themselves. Your windscreen wipers are the tool for keeping your view clear and getting rid of build-up on the windscreen that may be caused by these awful conditions.

Fluids

Vehicle fluid levels are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer.

Keeping your anti-freeze topped up as well as windscreen washer fluid, brake fluid and oil are all just as crucial as each other.

Anti-freeze being the most obvious and does what it says on the tin. This will ensure the water in your car radiator does not freeze over.

Your brakes will need to be in the best condition possible to ensure you keep safe on wet, icy roads, so checking your brake fluid is essential to ensure they work as efficient as they should and your stopping distance does not become increased.

Engine oil can thicken when it becomes cold and if this happens it could possibly prevent your engine from starting.

Brakes

Your vehicle brakes are going to be your safety net should you need to come to a stop when conditions are bad.

It is important to check your brakes all year round but even more so when the weather takes a turn.

If your brakes are starting to squeak or you find your brake pedal is vibrating when applying pressure, pull over safely and call for assistance if necessary. These may be signs that they could be worn and need some attention.

Get them seen to and replaced immediately to avoid the worst happening.

Lights

Winter can become beautifully scenic, especially when snow is on the cards. But alongside a postcard image comes darker, greyer days and little hours of daylight. The sun sets much earlier and visibility is considerably reduced during the day.

Conditions such as fog, mist, rain and snow only add to the already poor light hours during the day.

Ensure all your lights are fully functional, including headlights, main beam, fog lamps, brake and reverse lights.

Not only could you land a penalty for driving without some of these lights, but you will also make it much more difficult for yourself on the road and you will be harder to spot to other drivers as well as altering them of hazards ahead.

Make sure you replace any bulbs as soon as they run out or become dim/faulty to ensure that you can see as clearly as possible.

 

A lot of garages will offer free winter vehicle checks. These are a great service to take advantage of, especially if you are not quite sure what to look for or check. The checks are quick and carried out by experts who see vehicles daily, allowing you piece of mind to drive off safely.

 

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