Throughout the winter months the evenings become darker earlier and the windy snowy weather can make driving dangerous. However there are several precautions and steps you can take to make this easier and allow you to avoid getting into an accident. We’ve put together this guide to show you.
Antifreeze is used in vehicles to stop the water inside of your engines cooling system from freezing. Antifreeze should ideally be replaced every two years so if you can’t remember the last time you changed it then now is the best moment to flush the cooling system and replenish with free antifreeze.
During winter its recommended that you have a mix of 50% water and 50% antifreeze. If you’re struggling to do this then you can take your vehicle to your local garage and they can often do this for you free of charge especially if you’re getting other work completed.
To ensure that you maintain maximum visibility then you should clear ice, snow or dirt from your windows and windscreen before you begin your journey. Many people use boiling hot water from the kettle to do this, but this should never be done because it can crack the glass so you should use a scraper instead. When removing snow from the roof you shouldn’t use the scraper as this can damage the paintwork, instead use a soft brush, because you don’t want snow to start falling off onto the windscreen when you start driving.
3. Wiper Blades
Its recommended that you replace your wiper blade every year or sooner if they begin to make a scratching noise or leaving a smear stain on your glass when you activate them. You can take the strain off them by removing any debris that may be on the windscreen which will make them last longer.
Manually lifting the arms up will stop the build-up of debris and from them sticking to the screen. You should be using wiper blades in combination with screenwash to keep the screen dirt and grime free.
If you live in an areas where there is heavy snowfall then you may need to use winter tyres or tire chains to make it easier to handle the terrain and to have a greater level of grip and traction on the road.
No matter the type of tires that you have on your vehicle, you need to check the tread and pressure as they should be no less than 2mm.
For your specific tyre recommended pressure you can always check your owners handbook. Lower pressure will decrease the amount of grip on the road which is the last thing you want throughout the winter.
To avoid getting stranded if it begins to snow whilst you are a distance away from your home, its recommended that you keep tire chains and a shovel in your vehicle. You should make sure that you know how to use the tire chains so when it comes to actually needing them you can attach them quickly.
5. Don’t Take Chances
Sometimes the weather will be extremely dangerous with torrential rain, snow or gale force winds that you should delay your journey altogether and wait for it to settle down. If you do urgently need to go then make sure you check your tyres, wiper blades, lights and engine before you begin. Also let a family member or friend know where you’re going and how long you expect the journey to last just in case you encounter trouble.
6. If You Have A Garage Then Use It
Using a garage will not only protect your cars paint job, but will save you time in the morning as you won’t need to scrape ice or snow off it. It will also protect your radiator and other components from freezing over. In addition it will also keep your car safe, because its less likely thieves will see your vehicle as a target if its locked away in a garage.
If you don’t have access to a garage then you should purchase a car cover, which will protect your car from ice and snow. Also if your roads are salted overnight then it will stop it from damaging your paintwork.
7. Get Regular Services
Although you can check many of the components in your vehicle, nothing will beat a professional check giving you that added peace of mind. The best time to get a service is right before the winter season which will lower the risk of a break down as the service will highlight any issues your vehicle may have.
8. Be Prepared
Before setting off on your journey you should have some simple emergency supplies in your vehicle just in case you do suffer from a breakdown or you’re involved in an accident. Items you should have include a shovel, torch, blankets, ice scraper and a first aid kit.
Although it’s impossible to always have a fully charged phone, you should have an emergency portable charger and the phone number for your breakdown service.
9. Check Your Car Battery
Your cars battery is put under more strain during the winter months and makes it harder for the engine to turn over. Cold weather also weakens the battery and decreases the amount of power that a battery can deliver. If you haven’t changed your battery lately then it may soon fail, but you can test the current power of your battery by using a battery analyser and if the power is low a battery charger will help to restore its original power.
If this doesn’t work, then it may be time for a completely new battery which can be bought and fitter by your local garage.
10. Take More Care When Driving
Make sure that you take more care when you’re driving. To start you’ll need to give yourself more time for journeys so you don’t like you have to rush, and when you’re driving you should keep extra distance from the vehicle in front to give you more space to brake and accelerate.
If there’s snow or ice then high gears are ideal because this lowers the need to sudden acceleration or deceleration which can cause the vehicle to lose traction. Its recommended that you still to the main routes in icy and snowy conditions as these are the most likely to have been gritted or salted which will give you vehicle extra traction and grip.