The winter weather can be unpredictable, with hazardous conditions such as snow, icy roads, high winds, fog, heavy rain, hail and flooding all possibilities. If you’re going to be driving a long distance to see friends or relatives this Christmas, here are some useful tips for taking care of your car.
Clean your car
Clean your car from top to bottom, inside and out. Get rid of any rubbish, vacuum the interior and clean the inside and outside of the windows to improve visibility.
According to the AA, a battery is the most common cause of winter breakdowns. It takes more battery power to start your vehicle in cold weather than in warm, so if you’re unsure about the condition of your car’s battery, take it to the garage to be checked by a professional.
Don’t be left in the dark
Make sure you test your car’s headlights, indicators and brake lights. The lights need regular checking to ensure that you can see clearly when you are driving at night – they also make sure that you are seen by other drivers.
Have your fluids checked
Before you hit the road, check the engine oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant and wiper fluid and re-fill any that need it.
Check the condition of your tyres regularly
According to the AA, tyres should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Make sure you check the condition of the spare tyre as well. Tyre pressure should always be checked when the tyres are cold, and never adjusted halfway through or straight after a journey.
Make sure the wipers work
Check the condition of your wipers, as the blades wear down and need to be replaced roughtly every six months or so.
Don’t be a ‘fuel’
Don’t wait for the red light to come on on your fuel gauge before you fill up. You don’t want to be driving miles away from a fuel station and running dangerously low.
Check you’re up-to-date
Make sure that the car’s MOT and servicing aren’t overdue, and that your vehicle has valid tax and motor insurance to avoid facing a hefty fine.
Before setting off on a journey…
- Make sure you have the number of your breakdown cover in your phone and that you have packed an in-car phone charger.
- Pack an emergency kit with items such as blankets, warm clothes, a reflective jacket, de-icer, a torch and spare batteries, a first aid kit, plus non-perishable snacks, a flask of hot drink and bottled water.
- Take time to plan your journey, factoring in traffic, accidents and places to take a break.
- Let friends or relatives know what time you will be setting off and when you expect to arrive.
- Listen to the radio as you’re driving to hear the frequent weather and traffic updates.
- If the weather is particularly bad, ask yourself whether your journey is essential, or if it can be delayed a little bit longer.