Don't get caught in the cold

Cold and wet weather presents some of the most challenging driving conditions and with unpredictable weather forecast for the next two weeks it’s important to be safe, rather than sorry.

Breakdowns nearly double at this time of year and we recently found out that one in four British drivers have also broken down during the cold period. To help, we’ve pulled together a checklist of things you’ll want to consider before the cold snap sets in and things to keep any eye on throughout the period.

IN ADVANCE:

Car battery

Cold and damp weather is a battery killer. Especially if your car has been sat idle or not used for an extended period. If your battery is struggling to start your car, the chances are it's on its way out.

You can test the battery yourself if you have the correct equipment, but it’s far easier to ask a specialist. Assuming you can start the car, you can drive to your local main dealer or car spares shop to buy a new one.

Car battery prices vary, and can cost from around £60 fitted, although models fitted with stop-start systems can cost more than £100, depending on the size, type and the electrical current produced. Although this might seem like a steep outline cost, fixing the problem before the cold weather sets in can save money in the long run – avoiding any emergency call out fees or hassle in having to jump start the engine in the freezing cold.

What to pack for an emergency

It’s always a good idea to carry a few items in the car in case of emergency breakdowns. In a recent survey motorists told us that their phone charger was the top item they like to keep handy in case of a breakdown. However, there’s no telling where you’ll breakdown or how long you’ll be there so you might want to consider other essentials like; water, blankets, food and clothes too.

REGULAR CHECKS:

Winter tyres

Three quarters of drivers recently revealed that bad winter weather doesn’t influence their decision to drive. If you constantly find that you’re driving in adverse conditions then it’s worth investing in winter tyres - they offer better grip when the temperature drops and will make short work of icy conditions.

However, if you don’t regularly drive during adverse conditions then checking the depth of your existing tyres regularly is just as important. The legal limit for tread 1.6mm, any lower than this and you will need to replace then or risk a fine – or worse, a conviction.

Screen wash

Winter weather is frequently wet (especially if you’re based in the North like us), meaning you’re likely to have your wipers in constant use. It’s important to keep your screen wash topped up or risk all kinds of grime and muck reducing visibility. To ensure this doesn’t happen, open the screen wash bottle under the bonnet and fill it with screen wash. You can buy ready mixed or concentrated wash, which also has a lower freezing temp than water meaning no frozen washer jets too.

Antifreeze

Antifreeze stops the water in your engine from freezing. To test the effectiveness of your current antifreeze, you’ll need an antifreeze tester, which cost about £5. To use it, unscrew the coolant reservoir cap under the bonnet, after checking the engine is cold.

Lower the tube into the coolant and squeeze the rubber bulb on the end to suck some antifreeze inside the tester. You can then read the freezing point of the antifreeze using the scale inside the tester. Replace the antifreeze in the car’s system and replace the cap.

For more information on driving safely during winter conditions, check out our recent article here.

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