Preparing your car for winter
21st October 2015
While the variability of UK weather makes it hard to predict when winter weather will set in, the end of October is generally a good deadline date to set yourself for completing your winter driving preparations.
If a service is almost due, there is no better time to do it than in the run-up to winter.
Battery: In winter the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery
Tyres: Consider buying winter tyres, which are designed to grip the road better in icy, wet and snowy conditions. If this is not an option, check the tyre condition to see if there is adequate tread. Look out for signs of damage, such as splits or bulges and check the pressure.
Screen wash: Keep this topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing.
Windows: Clear all snow and ice from the windscreen and the roof of the car before driving off. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing.
Locks: A squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up. If they do, heat your key with a lighter to melt the ice.
Check tyre pressure: Ensure they are not underinflated.
Warm clothing: Your car may be warm on the inside but if you have to step outside, you could be in trouble if you have not got any warm clothing with you.
Check tyre tread: There should be min 3mm tread all round in winter to ship away extra water on the road. Replace tyres if tread is under 2mm.
Snow chains: Think about buying snow chains – they could get you home.
Starting the car: If the car doesn’t start, do not turn the ignition repeatedly. This will run down the battery. Turn the ignition once, for five seconds and then turn off. Wait thirty seconds before trying again.
Driving in snow and ice
1. Setting off: Set off in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid any wheel-spin.
2. Driving uphill: Avoid having to stop part way up by waiting until it is clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room with the car in front. Keep a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change down on the hill.
3. Driving downhill: Reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes. Leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front.
4. Travel at a constant speed: Choose a suitable gear (generally second or third) when going up hills in icy conditions.
5. Remember your stopping distance: On snow and ice, you require a ten times greater distance in which to stop than in dry conditions.
What to carry in your car throughout the winter
It might surprise you but blizzards and snowdrifts can happen almost anywhere in the UK. Don’t get caught out. Be prepared and, even if the worst happens, you have the reassurance of knowing you have resources.
• Powerful torch with spare batteries
• Reflective triangle (and consider distress flares if you drive in remote rural or mountainous areas)
• First aid kit
• Ice scraper, de-icer spray, snow brush
• Window cleaner spray
• Matches, wrapped to exclude dampness, and a good penknife or scissors
• Warm clothing, gloves and blankets
• Bottled water
• Jump leads
• Snow shovel
• Tow rope
• Some large blocks of chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, camping-shop high energy and non-perishable food
• Sacks or old carpet to place beneath your wheels if you get stuck
• Your mobile phone and spare battery (using a car charger will run down your car battery)
Horner Blakey Insurance Brokers are one of the UK’s leading insurance brokers and recently won Bluefin’s Star Broker of the Year 2015. For a no obligation insurance review and to find out more about how we may be able to help you please call Horner Blakey Insurance Brokers on 020 7929 0108.