Bettersafe winter driving and car maintenance tips
- Check your tyres
3mm of tread is recommended for the winter. Think about getting winter tyres or all-season tyres which are made from a special rubber which gives better grip in cold, wet conditions.
A 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water is needed for the winter to protect a car engine to -34C. Most modern cars use long-life antifreeze but some need changing after only two years. Check your service schedule. If your car overheats, the radiator may have frozen. Stop immediately.
Ensure washer fluid is topped up with screenwash which won’t freeze.
- Windscreen Wipers
Replace worn wipers. Do not leave wipers in auto mode, they could be damaged if the wipers turn on when the car starts up.
- Check your battery
Most batteries last around five years. You can buy a battery tester or take your car to a specialist for a battery check. Batteries cost from around £60 fitted. If your car doesn’t start straight away, wait 30 seconds before the next attempt. Turn off lights, heated rear windows and wipers to reduce the load on the battery when starting up. Use the starter in short five second bursts.
- Car parking
If you can’t park in a garage or carport overnight, try to use a building or hedge as a screen against snow. Consider buying an ice and snow windscreen cover.
- Allow extra time
Make sure the windscreen, all windows, lights and the registration plate are clear of snow and ice before you start your journey. Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key for a frozen lock. Plan routes using major roads which are more likely to be cleared and gritted.
- Tips for driving in snow and ice
Stopping distances are 10 times longer in icy conditions. Pull away in second gear, wear dry shoes for driving. If you must use your brakes, apply them gently. If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or an old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres grip.
- Winter emergency kit
You will be glad you packed a blanket and emergency rations if you get stuck in a tailback or end up waiting for roadside assistance. Your winter kit should also include a hazard warning triangle, hi-visibility vest, first aid kit, large bottle of water, tow rope, shovel, warm clothes, waterproof boots and torch.
- Don’t drive in extreme conditions
If you are in any doubt about the safety of your car or the road conditions, stay at home. No journey is worth risking lives for.