As winter approaches, with it will come freezing sub-zero temperatures, snowy weather and more treacherous driving conditions. Darker nights combined with unpredictable weather can often catch many drivers out and as such we tend to see a higher rate of road incidents and traffic during the winter period. However, much of the problems faced on our roads could be easily avoided with extra preparation to make sure your car is winter ready.
The team at Cars2 have compiled an easy to use checklist of what you should be doing to make sure you don’t get caught out in the cold this winter:
Every year we have customers who ask ‘should I buy winter tyres?’ and our answer is always – it depends. Winter tyres are excellent additions to your vehicle if you know there is a very probable chance that you’ll be driving through snowfall. Drivers who live in the countryside and therefore don’t have their nearby roads treated as much as urban areas would benefit from winter tyres. Drivers who live in urban areas and could get about on public transport may be more suited to using something snow grips or socks that are cheaper in cost but can be put on as a temporary solution.
It is vital that as temperatures drop below freezing level that you keep your coolant levels topped up in your vehicle. Coolant helps your vehicle’s mechanics work appropriately at all temperatures and make sure that your engine doesn’t overheat from exhaustive activity as well as freeze over in harsh weather conditions. As well as coolant levels, it’s always worthwhile making sure that windscreen wiper fluid has been topped up as during the winter months windscreens can become incredibly dirty as gritted roads through up stubborn dirt that can restrict visibility.
Your car tyres are the only part of your vehicle that actually come into contact with the road, as such, they are perhaps the most important to consider as part of your winter checks. You need to check your car tyres before the weather turns to ensure that you appropriate grip and that they are in good condition. Drivers can check if they have decent grip by undertaking the 20p test. Place one of the flat ridges of a 20p into your tyre tread. If the outer band of the 20p is hidden by the tread then you can rest assured that there’s enough grip on the tyre.
It is also worthwhile ensuring that your tyres are properly inflated and there’s no slow punctures or slashes to the tyre that could potentially see you having to change a tyre in hazardous conditions.
All drivers should test their car lights before the winter months if they are planning any long journeys in the dark. A test flash of the lights could be the difference between a safe journey and a fatal head on collision. As the cold creeps in so does the chances of snow, and with snow flurries comes decreased visibility. Always ensure that your car lighting, including fog lights, are in working condition.
Unfortunately there are sometimes situations that you simply can’t avoid or control. Heavy snowfall can caused impassable roads or create traffic queues that tailback for miles. In these instances it pays to be prepared, especially if you’re travelling with children.
Always aim to keep a good rucksack or bag in the boot of your car with items that may help if you’re caught out. High visibility clothing, warm clothing such as jumpers, water, phone chargers, snow grips, appropriate footwear for cold conditions and snacks can all be lifesavers. Sometimes a deck of cards can be a useful way to distract the children if you’re sat hours in traffic.
Perhaps the most important thing of all is ensuring that you always clearly communicate where you’re going to someone in bad weather. Keep your phone charged and on hands free to remain safe. Keeping a cheap USB or cigarette lighter charger in the glove box always comes in helpful if your battery dies.
If you’re heading to see a friend or family member, let them know when you expect to arrive and what route you’re taking. Mobile phone signal can be temperamental in the country side and you could be left with no way of letting anyone know you’re stuck in the snow.