Things to check:
Tyres, Fluid Levels, Lights, Battery, Heating, Windscreen Condition.
Take advantage of our free winter check service.
Check the condition of your tyres – ice and poor weather conditions on the roads seriously affect the grip your tyres have on the road. Ensure you have at least the minimum legal requirement tread depth of 1.6mm on your tyres but it is recommended you should have between 2 -3 mm of tread in those winter months. It’s not just the tread you have to check - see if there are any bulges, cracks or foreign objects in the tyre and check that the tyre pressures are correct as well (see your manufacturer's guide) And don’t forget to check over the spare tyre too!
The antifreeze level should be kept topped up in the winter to protect the water in your engine from freezing. When topping up your antifreeze make sure you use the correct specification for your vehicle - find this in your manufacturer’s guide. Check that your car, van or 4 x 4’s antifreeze will protect against those lowest of temperatures in winter by taking your vehicle to your local garage.
BRAKE FLUID (& BRAKES)
When visibility is reduced and road surfaces are icy you need to have reliable brakes so ensure the brake fluid level is correct and check the condition of your brakes, alternatively take your vehicle to a garage to have your brakes tested professionally.
WASHER FLUID (& WIPERS)
In those winter months you’ll tend to use your washer fluid more frequently, keep the level topped up with screen wash to avoid freezing which will also help clear your screen on those frosty mornings. Your front and rear wipers should also be in good condition, make sure they are not cracked or perished and clear the windscreen efficiently.
check the level of oil and top up if necessary to avoid any damage to the engine. To help you gauge how much to fill up your oil, on average the amount of oil between the min and max level is approximately 1 litre.
As the days become shorter and nights become longer you’ll need to ensure all your lights are working correctly before you set off. This includes your hazard, fog, brake and reversing lights these are essential especially with poor visibility weather conditions – keep your lights clean too for maximum visibility.
Starting your vehicle in the cold weather puts a strain on your battery as well as the increased use of demisters and lights - have your battery tested to make sure it is in good condition and replace if necessary.
Test your heated windows and demisters before the winter weather kicks in so you have enough time to get it repaired if necessary. You should also leave your air conditioning on for at least half an hour per week when driving in the winter, this will keep it working correctly and will also help to defrost the car.
If you have any chips in your windscreen you should have them repaired before the winter months, this is because the icy weather can cause them to turn into cracks by the freeze-thaw method. Your windscreen provides just under a third of your vehicle’s structural strength therefore it is essential to repair a chip. They are relatively cheap to repair, or free if you’re covered by your insurance and take very little time to repair, whereas a crack is difficult to repair and will usually result in the renewal of your windscreen instead.
Advice for travelling by car in winter
Before setting off on any journey in the winter check the weather and traffic forecast, if the weather is poor try not to travel further than necessary, if at all. If it is essential that you must drive in the ice, snow and fog follow these tips:
- Allow extra time to arrive at your destination taking into consideration the time it’ll take to de-ice your car and a slower speed you may have to travel at.
- Clear your front and rear windscreens fully before leaving.
- Keep to or drive slower than the speed limits.
- Avoid heavy acceleration or braking – keep in mind that the stopping distance will have increased in these conditions.
- Make sure you use the correct lights, especially when visibility is poor i.e. fog lights on when visibility is less than 100m.
- Avoid erratic steering and taking bends or corners too fast, you should brake early and decelerate gradually.
- Take supplies with you – a blanket, flask full of a hot beverage and some food just in case you break down or get caught in traffic. Also keep a first aid kit in your vehicle as well.
- Keep a red warning triangle sign in your vehicle in case of a breakdown. Most new vehicles now come with a red warning triangle already installed in one of the compartments of your vehicle, usually found in the boot. This is because it is now a legal requirement in most European countries to carry these in case of breakdown.
- Finally, ensure you tell someone where you’re going, take a phone if possible (that has a substantial amount of battery) and know a recovery number.