Darker evenings, Christmas countdowns and misty car windows: all signs that winter is nearly upon us. As well as making sure that you’re on top of your Christmas shopping list, there are a few other things you should be looking at to ensure an enjoyable festive season.
Your car, for example. Bad winter weather should be a good excuse to stay at home, in front of the fire with a good movie. But, no. Us sociable Brits are routinely tempted into travelling to visit friends and family by no more than the promise of a mince pie and and the sniff of some mulled wine!
So, at a time when no-one in their right mind would take to the roads, breakdown recovery services are dealing with their highest callout volumes of the year. Rather than just whacking up the heating and sticking a snow shovel in the boot, the team at Swansway Group want to help you out by reminding you about a few other things that you can attend to keep you safe in your motor through our unpredictable winter weather.
After a cold night, just like us, your car won’t start well in the morning so you’ll have to prepare it for the colder months. Think of it as a kind of automobile endurance training when your car could be running in freezing temperatures and standing in traffic queues for longer.
Don’t Get Tyred Out
Probably the most important thing to inspect is the state of your tyres. You wouldn’t go out in snow wearing a pair of stilettos without any grip, nor should you expect your car to! Take a look at the tread depth to make sure your car will be able to get get a good grip on the road if the snow and ice sets in.
To make sure that you are well within the safe (and legal) limit, your tyre tread depth should be at least that of the border on a 20p coin.
If you live in a rural or hilly area, where your car might need a bit more grip, consider investing in a set of snow tyres. Like a pair of sturdy walking boots, these can be fitted for the duration of the winter months and (unless badly worn) can be stored for the following year.
With as little as 8 hours of daylight in the winter months, most of us travel to and from work or school in the dark, so it’s important that you can see and be seen. Test your car lights, replace bulbs if necessary and make sure you clean your headlamps regularly as salt and grit can make them dirtier quicker than any other time of year. You don’t need to fork out for a 5 star-valet when a quick waft with a piece of kitchen towel will do the job.
There’s no point in keeping your lights bright if you can’t see other vehicles. Keep your windscreen clean and free from obstructions, and if you have any chips (and we don’t mean the takeaway kind) now would be a good time to get them fixed.
Extreme weather can cause a chipped or cracked windscreen to smash, which could leave your Christmas plans, quite literally, shattered. And with most car insurances covering windscreen chips, you should be able to get the work completed quickly, at home or work and for free.
Check that your windscreen wipers are working properly as you’ll definitely need them. However, don’t be tempted to use them on a frozen windscreen unless you want to replace them AND their motor.
You should check car levels regularly but especially as winter approaches. Don’t get caught without screen wash, or with low anti-freeze and oil levels.
If you aren’t sure what goes where, take your car to have it checked out at any local Swansway Group dealership where trained technicians will be happy to give it the once over.
In cold and wet weather, the last thing you need is to be left stranded in your car. There’s enough of a risk of that happening due to snow, ice and flooding without raising the odds by constantly running your car with low fuel levels.
Standing traffic and detours could mean that you are covering more miles that you plan to so make sure you regularly pop into your local fuel station and keep your vehicle topped up. While you’re there, treat yourself or your other half to a bunch of flowers - even petrol station flowers keep better in cold weather!
Find your inner Brownie Guide or Cub Scout and always Be Prepared by keeping an ice scraper and de-icer to hand in your motor. Wherever you are when bad weather sets in, you can made your car roadworthy.
Drinks, sweets, warm coats and gloves will help you and your passengers to stay roadworthy, too.
Don’t Get Dug In
Keep a shovel in your boot too. You never know when you might have to dig yourself or another motorist out of a snowy patch.
It’s also a good idea to have a Hi-viz jacket and warning triangle in your boot to help keep you as visible as possible if your car should become a casualty of bad weather and you have to venture outside.
...in severe weather, no matter how much you think you need to make a car journey, don’t. Unless its an emergency, your friends, relatives and colleagues will be just as happy to see you the next day. They might even save you a mince pie.
If you have any concerns about your vehicle that may or may not affect your winter driving, you are more than welcome to visit your local Swansway Group garage for advice and a vehicle health check. Our technicians will be on hand to help keep you safe during the winter months.