Dark, wet nights and frosty mornings are just around the corner, so it’s time to prepare your car for winter. A few minutes spent now could save you hours, and £££s this winter. Read our top 8 tips to get your wheels ready for the cold weather.
1) Look after your lights
It’s possible you’ve not driven after nightfall for the whole of the summer. But as winter approaches and the clocks change, it is getting darker earlier and earlier. Now is the time to check all your lights are working properly. This will not only make it safer for you to drive in the dark, but it could stop you receiving a fixed penalty notice. For example, if you’re stopped by the police because a brake-light is not working, you may receive a fixed penalty fine of £60 and three penalty points on your licence.
2) Check washer fluid levels
Your washers help keep your screen clear all through the year and are vital for safety. In the winter, lots of dirt and salt can be thrown up onto your screen as you drive along. If your washers run out, you risk having to drive with severely impaired visibility. It’s a good idea to use screenwash in your washers. This can help to break down the dirt and salt residue that’s likely to hit your screen during the winter. If you’re driving in frosty conditions, it can be even more challenging if your washers are also frozen. Luckily, screenwash and water also have a lower freezing point than using water alone.
3) Time for new tyres?
Check your tread. If it’s borderline legal, then the winter is the time to get some new tyres. Wet, icy roads mean you’ll rely on the tread for grip much more.
If you drive a lot, it may be worth considering buying specialist winter tyres and storing your other tyres until the spring. Winter tyres are developed specifically for use in cold conditions. The tread is cleverly designed to disperse water or snow. That improves your contact with the road, which means better grip in colder weather than with standard tyres. This means you may be less likely to spin off on an icy corner. This improved grip can also help to reduce your braking distance, helping you to stop quickly.
Winter tyres are not a legal requirement in the UK. However, if you’re heading for the Austrian slopes in your car, be aware that in Austria winter tyres are mandatory in the winter months. You’ll face a hefty 5000 EURO fine if you’re stopped driving without them.
4) Check your battery
Cold weather can affect your battery. If your battery is getting old and starting to fail, that could mean the difference between your car starting or not. Avoid turning up to work or school late by checking your battery and replacing it if necessary.
5) Add antifreeze
Anti-freeze can be added to your vehicles cooling system to stop it from freezing when the temperatures plummet. You can buy it in concentrated form or ready-mixed with water. If your car was made before 1998, it’s likely you’ll need an anti-freeze that contains silicates. If it was made after that date, it’s likely you’ll need one without silicates using Organic Acid Technology (OAT) instead. Check your user manual. Make sure your engine is topped up, especially as the cooler months approach.
6) Be prepared
If you do break down in the winter, you’ll be glad you were prepared. Put together an emergency kit, which you keep in your boot, just in case. It could include:
- A torch, to give you light if something happens after dark.
- A hazard warning triangle, to notify other drivers that your car has stopped.
- A high-vis vest, so you’ll show up if you do need to get out of your car when it’s dark.
- A drink and some food, in case you get stranded for some time. For example, due to a sudden snowstorm.
- A shovel, so you can dig yourself out if you are stuck in the snow.
- Warm clothes or a blanket. If you need to get out of your car on a cold winters day or night, you’ll quickly feel the chill, so keep a warm coat handy in the boot. A blanket can also be useful, especially if you are forced to spend the night in your car.
It’s also wise to keep your mobile phone, and a battery charger, handy.
7) Beef up your breakdown cover
Is your breakdown cover up to date? Does it include homestart? Will it take you home if your car can’t be fixed on the roadside? If you’re driving this winter, you can buy extra peace of mind with comprehensive breakdown cover. This is often available at a discounted rate if you purchase it at the same time as your car insurance. Speak to your broker for more details.
8) It’s Easy2Insure your car this winter
If the worst does happen and you crash on black ice or your engine is destroyed when you drive through a flood in the road, you’ll want to know your insurance covers you. Speak to our friendly team at Easy2Insure for cover you can count on at a great price. Call us today on 0800 917 9522 or get a free quote now.