The temperature is dropping and the days are getting shorter – yep, winter is on its way. That means it’s time to think about preparing yourself and your car for worsening conditions.
Follow our simple tips to keep yourself moving safely this winter.
Tyres – Your tyres are your car’s only contact with the road so it’s important to make sure they are in top condition. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm but the AA recommends at least 3mm in winter. Check your pressures as well grip is affected by over/under-inflated tyres. Winter tyres offer improved grip in cold/slippy conditions
Lights – Short days mean it’s essential your lights are in good condition. Check all the bulbs are working and ensure they’re clear of frost/snow before every journey
Windscreen washers/wipers – Check your blades are in good condition and ensure your reservoir is regularly topped up with winter-strength screenwash. The bottle will tell you the correct water/fluid ratio
Windows – Before every journey clear all your windows of snow/ice, not just the windscreen. Visibility is vital so follow our simple advice to do so safely. Also clear any snow from the roof of your car before setting off.
Pack a bag
Nobody sets out to get stranded on the road but with flooding and sudden heavy snowfalls a common occurrence in some parts of the country, it’s easy to get caught out. It’s best, then, to make sure you’re prepared. Packing a bag with a few essentials and leaving it in your car means you’ll be ready should the worst happen. A blanket, warm jacket, sturdy shoes, high-visibility jacket, torch, charged mobile phone, snack and bottled water are essentials. A foldable shovel could also help get you out of a drift.
Bad weather means inevitable hold-ups on the road so plan ahead, allow extra time for journeys and think about your route. If you usually use smaller, less travelled roads these might not be cleared or treated as regularly as main routes so it could be worth taking another, busier route where possible. Check travel reports to ensure your route is passable.
Stay in control
Being smooth and gentle with the controls is vital in poor conditions. Sudden accelerating, braking or steering is more likely to cause an accident if the roads are bad. Remember, braking distances can increase up to 10 times in snow and ice. Anticipation is key. The less you have to change gear, brake or stop and the more time you have to manoeuvre the less likely you are to get stuck or have an accident. Going up hills leave plenty of space ahead so even if the car in front slows you can keep your momentum. Going down hill, leave as large gap as possible to any cars in front and try to avoid using your brakes to reduce the chance of skidding. If conditions are slippy, pull away in second gear to reduce wheelspin.
Get breakdown cover
Even well-maintained cars can fall victim to the hardships of winter so if you don’t want to be stranded at the roadside, make sure you have breakdown cover in place, just in case. It’s always cheaper to have cover in place already than having to sign up when you suddenly need it.