Modern cars are far more reliable than they used to be, but they are not immune from things going wrong, especially if essential checks are neglected. As the nights draw in and the temperature drops we should remind themselves of how to drive safely in wet and icy conditions.
During Winter recovery companies are at their busiest. These days, we need them more than ever. Unless you have a laptop and the right diagnostic equipment on hand there is precious little chance of you being able to solve a problem yourself at the roadside. So if you don’t have breakdown cover, take a look here for some unbiased customer reviews to find the best provider. You are less likely to need them if you run through the following checks.
1) Service due?
Whether you’ve been meaning to get the car serviced for a while or it’s not quite due yet but soon will be, get it done before winter takes hold. Half the problems that manifest on cars could have been prevented by some simple maintenance. Many garages offer free winter checks, so you might as well take advantage and book the car in now.
2) Check the battery
In days gone by, you would get plenty of advance warning that a battery was on its way out, with the engine cranking slowly first thing on a cold morning. Today, they tend to die suddenly, dramatically and completely, usually at the most inopportune moment. If the battery is more than three years old, get it checked for free and replace if necessary.
3) Check the tyres
As temperatures drop towards zero, road-holding gets tougher, and a good set of tyres could spell the difference between a close call and a visit to hospital – or worse. Check the tread and condition, or pop into your local tyre centre and they will be happy to check them for you.
4) Top up the antifreeze
We’ve all been guilty of topping up the coolant with water during summer rather than shelling out for summer coolant. That’s not a problem as far as it goes, but it does mean the antifreeze gets diluted, so now is the time to put a litre or two in there to get the concentration back up to 50/50.
5) And the screenwash
Admit it, we are even worse about screenwash. If this freezes and you can’t squirt the windscreen, it can easily lead to disaster, so fill up with proper screenwash. It’s not expensive and it could save your life.
6) See and be seen
When the gritters start to do their thing, the roads become full of filthy spray that can cover your lights, front and rear. Not only does this reduce your night vision, it also means other road users can’t see you. Give your lights a clean prior to setting out, particularly at night. While you are doing so, also make sure the number plates are not coated in grime – you could be landed with a £1,000 fine if the police can’t read them.