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Getting your car winter ready

Getting your car winter ready

We know it may seem like common sense, but making sure your car is in full working order for the winter months really is essential. After all, the last thing you want is to be breaking down in the cold, miserable weather.

So, here are the main checks you should be doing before you set off in the snow. Of course, if you don’t want, or don’t have the time, to do these things yourself, get your local garage to do it for you.

Battery – apparently dead batteries are one of the most common reasons for breakdown in the winter. The cold and damp can kill them, as can using heating, wipers and lights all at the same time. You can check it yourself, but if you don’t feel that confident, leave it to the experts.

Windows and wipers – Always make sure windows are free from snow, ice, dirt and grit. It’s easy for the glass to get seriously mucky in the winter, so good screenwash, with a decent antifreeze in it, is essential.

And, if you’re thinking of using boiling water on icy mornings – don’t! The sudden change from below freezing to boiling could crack the glass. Instead, use a proper snow scraper and de-icer to do the job. Also, check your wiper blades to make sure there are no cracks or splits, and give them a little clean at the same time.

Anti-freeze – check and top-up your anti-freeze. It’s vital for stopping the water in the engine cooling system from freezing. And, we’re fairly sure that you’d know about that if it happened.

Lights – make sure all your lights are working and clear of dirt and snow. This is important when it’s dark in the mornings and evenings, especially with the reduced visibility due to bad weather. Check your fog lights too, they don’t get used that much so are often overlooked.

Tyres – tyres should have at least 1.6mm of tread on them. This is vital for winter in the UK, as they’ll probably be lots of water on the roads. However, to be really safe it’s best to have at least 3mm of tread as this’ll disperse the water much better.

There’s no legal requirement for winter tyres in the UK. But it’s a good idea to get some, especially if you’re a novice driver, or have no experience of driving in the snow. At the very least you should have snow chains or socks, which should be fitted to the drive wheels of your car.

Also, make sure that you check your tyre pressures. If they’re not right, the advantage winter tyres give you will be reduced.

Body of car – this might not be obvious, but you should clear the snow from your bonnet and roof too. It can cause a hazard for you and other road users – imagine what a shock a lump of snow hitting your windscreen at 70mph on the motorway would be.

Heaters – another essential in the cold weather. A quick check to make sure they are in good working order could save you from a freezing wait if you happen to get stuck somewhere.

And you’re done. We know it was a bit of a slog, but you’re at the end now and you’ll be thanking us when you make it to your destination safely.

Next week we’ll be offering some advice the driving skills you’ll need in wintery weather. Until then, keep safe on the roads.