Extreme weather is a significant cause of road accidents, so it is important that you are prepared for what the elements throw your way. Here is our advice on preparing your car for winter:
Preparing your car
You should check your tyres on a regular basis, but in winter you need to be even more careful of your tread depth. Wet or icy weather increases your chances of losing grip of the road and skidding. To meet legal requirements, tread should be at a minimum of 1.6mm, however it is strongly advisable that you don’t let them wear below 3mm ¹ during the cold months. See the video below from the RAC on checking your tyres:
Cold weather can freeze the essential fluids in your engine. Anti-freeze is a solution that brings the freezing point of your liquids right down; so it is vital that you keep it topped up when temperatures fall below zero. Refer to your car’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on the appropriate product and concentration.²
Windscreen de-icer and scraper
It is important that you have a clear all-round view out of your car. Do not:
- pour boiling water on your windscreen; it actually creates an icy layer on your screen which is harder to remove and can cause the glass to crack.
- use a CD case or any other random plastic article from your car, as these will scratch the glass.
- use your windscreen wipers. This will just damage the blades.
Clean your windscreen wipers
Rain brings with it dust and dirt. When this settles and dries onto your wipers, it makes them much less effective and they will just spread the dirt across your screen, affecting your visibility. Remove any build up by using a rag soaked in malt vinegar. Do not use detergents or solvents. ⁴
Most good screen washes will withstand sub-zero temperatures. Make sure you top up regularly, as you are likely to use your wipers more often. A dirty windscreen obscures your view of the road especially when combined with the low winter sun or glare from headlights. ⁵
Your winter checklist ⁶
Consider packing your car with a ‘road kit’. Use a sports bag or something similar, pack it with all your road essentials and leave it in the boot all year round.
- De-icer and scraper
- Jump leads: Batteries and alternators are much more likely to play up in the winter – you never know when you might need a jump-start.
- High visibility jacket(s)
- Small shovel: You never know when you might need to dig yourself out of a snowy situation!
- In-car charger: You don’t want to break down without any battery on your phone. Keep one in the glove box in case you should need to make an emergency call.
- A map: Don’t just rely on technology to get you home. A paper map is failsafe.
- Food, drink and a blanket: Keep some non-perishable snacks, some water and a blanket in the boot in case you should break down in severe conditions or are stuck in a bad traffic jam.