We all stock up on hats, gloves and scarfs when the winter approaches – but how many of us can honestly say we make sure we get our cars ready for the colder weather?
It is vital that checks are carried out ahead of the cold weather to avoid breakdowns or accidents, or costly damage to our cars.
After all the last thing we want in a snowstorm or freezing conditions is to have a long walk home!
Here are a few tips on how to stay safe and prepared.
- May the FORCES be with you
There are a few basic checks that should be carried out regularly over winter and the RAC suggests a useful acronym to help remind us – FORCES. This stands for Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics and Screen wash.
Fuel – check you have enough for your journey.
Oil – low oil can be very dangerous for an engine, so make sure yours is topped up.
Rubber – check your tyres – although the legal limit is 1.6mm it’s advisable to have around 3mm of tread to give extra traction. Check your wiper blades too.
Coolant – check it’s at the right level and mix to avoid freezing or overheating.
Electrics – it goes without saying that lights and visibility are vital in poor weather conditions. Make sure the battery is fully operational and maybe stock up on spare bulbs.
Screen wash -top up and use a quality screen wash additive to avoid freeing.
- Be prepared
Be ready in case the worst happens and you get stuck or have to abandon your car in poor weather. Keep a spare coat, warm clothes and boots in your car along with a shovel, torch, phone charger, scraper and even a flask and some food supplies just in case.
- Gen up on driving in snow, fog and rain
Your car is likely to use more fuel in cold weather, so don’t let fuel get too low. Plan your journey in advance and stick to main roads. In snow and rain, stopping distances will be massively increased, so keep it slow and steady. Do not accelerate or brake harshly as this can lead to skidding and loss of control. Keep the car clear of snow and ensure windows, number plates and lights are all visible.
Similar advice goes for fog – stay slow and steady and make sure you know where your fog lights switch is. Be aware of parked vehicles that might not become visible until the last minute.
If the weather is really bad consider postponing your plans if possible.
- Gotta wear shades
Low sun is another winter driving hazard which causes many accidents every year – keep a pair of sunglasses in your car and use the visors. Also make sure your windscreen is clean and slow down if visibility is poor.
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