Avoid a winter breakdown with these simple steps
Driving in the winter can be an absolute nightmare. From poor visibility to treacherous road conditions, winter driving requires care and vehicle maintenance. Here's five simple steps that'll keep you plodding along this winter.
1. Get your battery checked
Get your battery checked to avoid an unnecessary breakdown
According to GEM's breakdown control centre, many winter call-outs relate to drivers with flat batteries. Cold weather puts a significant strain on used car batteries, and so drivers should go for a battery health check. Simple tell-tale signs would be if your car's electrics seem to be working slower than usual, or if the battery warning light is illuminated. If either of these occur, get yourself a replacement immediately.
2. Check your engine coolant levels
Check your owners manual for advice on how to check the coolant levels
Engine coolant contains anti-freeze. This essentially prevents the water in your engine's cooling system from freezing over, and a frozen engine will not start up. Check that your coolant levels are topped up, if you don't know how to do this you should go to your local dealership or garage.
3. Check your lights
Visibility can be quite poor in winter, so check your lights
With the cold weather comes snow, fog, sleet and rain. Chilly weather spells can make visibility quite bad, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Keep your lights clean and free of snow and dirt. This will not only help you see further, but it will help other road users to see you. If you have a faulty light, you should get it fixed as soon as possible.
4. Check your tyres
A good, healthy tyre can make all the difference
Bald or worn tyres become even more dangerous in winter. They struggle to disperse water on the road as your drive, and they're also rubbish at driving over ice or snow as grip is extremely limited. Check your tyres. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, but most companies recommend a depth of 3mm as this will vastly improve your grip on slippery roads.
5. Look after your wipers
Make sure to turn off the automatic wipe function when leaving the car overnight in the cold
The natural reaction to clearing an icy windscreen is to turn on your wipers, don't. Activate your windscreen heater, or point the air vents onto the windscreen to begin de-icing it. If you start moving your wipers over the ice you risk damaging them. You may have to wait a minute or two, but once the ice becomes wet, it wipes off nice and easy. Grab an ice-scraper if you're in a rush. Make sure you top up your windscreen wash with cold weather fluid as the summer fluid will just freeze up inside the system.
6. Leave a bigger gap
Stopping distances increase dramatically in wet and icy conditions
When it's wet, icy or snowing, it's in your best interest to open up the gap from the vehicle in front. Stopping distances can increase up to ten times in these conditions. Maintain a good, safe gap to avoid hitting the car in front as there's nothing more inconvenient than writing your car off.
Do you have any other winter tips? Let me know in the comments
Article source: GEM Motoring Assist.