Be safe on the roads this winter and reduce your chances of breakdown and accidents.
Winter is coming and with it comes danger. The weather worsens, the road surfaces become more dangerous and things on your car are more likely to go wrong. It may sound bad but winter doesn’t have to be stressful for motorists.
It may seem like we’re surrounded by adverts for winter car checks at this time of the year, with emails, leaflets and online ads coming at us from all angles but we’re here to tell you once again, winter car checks are very important! That being said, they don’t have to be expensive.
Here are some quick, simple checks that will literally take 10 minutes in total and do not require any tools.
Firstly, as the amount of daylight in a typical day reduces, it becomes even more important to check your lights. Not only will we be driving in the dark more often but we will also be driving in the rain (and maybe even snow) more often too. The last thing anyone wants is for someone to collide with them because they couldn’t see your car.
The rear, front and indicator lights can all be checked easily by turning them on and using the hazard lights to check the indicators. Walk around your vehicle and check all the lights are working. For brake lights, you can either use a reflection of another car/van or even a shop front window or alternatively, ask someone else to look for you while your pressing on the brake pedal.
Secondly, tires are absolutely vital. With colder temperatures and a wetter road surface, stopping distances quickly increase, making it harder for us to avoid hitting something if an emergency situation arises. Have a quick look at your tyre treads and make sure that the depth is not worn down to be flush with the wear indicators (the small notches in the tread). If your tread is flush or getting close to flush with the wear indicators, change them as soon as possible. Furthermore, keep an eye on your tyres’ inflation too by inflating them frequently. If they have to inflated more frequently then usual, you may have a puncture.
One tip that is often missed out is to check the age of your tyres. With age, tyres become harder and less grippy and even with a barely worn tread, the stiffness of the rubber can cause them to perform very poorly and could result in skidding. Check the tyre for a DOT number and the last four digits will tell you the age. 2314, for instance, signifies the tyre was manufactured in the 23rd week of 2014.
With chilling temperatures and windscreens constantly being frozen and defrosted, a chip on the windscreen could very quickly turn into a crack and once it’s cracked, it will need replacing and that will be costly. To save money and, more importantly, be safe whilst driving, we would recommend that you check your windscreen for chips with a torch.
As we’ve mentioned, stopping distances quickly increase in the winter due to a range of factors. Brakes are always important but they are even more so during the winter months. Squeaky brakes can sometimes (but not always) be a sign that they have worn all the way down. If they’re not squeaking, it may still be worth getting a mechanic to have a quick look over them just to be safe.
One of the main reasons cars fail to start in the winter is because their battery needs replacing or charging. Batteries perform suboptimally in cold temperatures which makes it harder for your car to start-up in the morning. If your battery is near the end of its life, it will already be weaker and the cold weather will only make it worse so it’s best to replace it. However, if your battery is struggling, it may not need to be replaced, it could be a case of a battery that is on low charge. Lots of short journeys can quickly drain your battery as they are best charged on longer journeys. Have a mechanic run diagnostics on your battery to see if it needs replacing, before it gets too cold!
Let us know what other winter checks you would recommend, in the comments below.
For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.