Winter-proof your vehicle


Winter-proof your vehicle

October to February are the busiest months for car breakdowns. Roadside assistance organisations report that calls for support rise by over a quarter compared to the rest of the year. More than half of all calls are due to winter-related breakdowns.

The reality is that the demands of winter driving can expose electrical and mechanical weaknesses that may have developed over the years, potentially leaving drivers stranded by the roadside.

"There can be no question that today's cars are safer and more reliable. However, it remains vital that driver's prepare themselves and their cars for winter conditions," Noted Adam Taylor, claims manager at automotive insurance specialists Auto Protect.

"Correct servicing and a check of all tyres should be a regular feature, but we know that there has been a worrying trend in people avoiding these costs. It is a potential false economy."

"As a way of reducing worry about unwanted repair costs, we encourage drivers to actively look at ensuring they have appropriate Mechanical Breakdown Insurance and investigate their options for tyre insurance, both of which can help avoid unwanted expense" added Taylor.

"Above all, we urge drivers to adapt to the driving conditions and regularly check their car's tyres, oil, antifreeze and windscreen washer fluid and if the battery seems sluggish have it checked too. More cars do break down in the winter, these little checks can ensure drivers are less likely to be caught out."

Below are the top 10 tips to ensure you don't end up shivering by the side of the road

1. Oils and oil filters

Consider an oil and filter change before the weather turns nasty, or at least top-up oil levels in line with manufacturer's recommendations. This is key to ensuring your vehicle runs smoothly in any weather, especially in damp and cold conditions.

2. Antifreeze

Check your vehicle handbook for the ratio of mixture and for type of antifreeze because adding incorrect antifreeze to your coolant system may result in damage to your engine.

3. Tyre treads and pressure

Each tyre has a recommended PSI level (usually printed in your vehicle manual or on the tyre wall) and it's important to ensure that your tyres are inflated to that guideline. Make sure tyre tread depth is sufficient, grip is important at all times, particularly when it is wet or icy.

4. Brakes

To check that your brakes are winter-ready, ensure that the brake pads still have plenty of wear left in them. Some brakes have an indicator, advising you when they need to be changed.

5. Windscreen

Take a few simple possible safeguards to see as clearly as possible including replacing the wiper blades if you're having any issues with them, your windshield fluid is topped up, and there aren't any chips or scratches in your windscreen. Low, autumnal sun can be deadly.

6. Lights

Check that your headlights, driving lights, brake lights, signal bulbs, full beams and taillights are all working as they're supposed to. Call in some help for the rear lights.

7. Battery

One of the most common car faults is battery failure, so make sure you get your battery checked if you're worried it might not last through the winter, especially if it's older than five years. Your local garage will be able to test the condition and security of the battery to prevent any issues over winter.

8. Cabin air filter

If you've got an air filter in place in your vehicle, it's a good idea to replace it before the cold winter days as this will assist with improving the quality of airflow and ventilation through the vehicle cabin.

9. Wax

To prevent against the elements and salt that is used to grit roads, and keep your car's appearance at its best, make sure to wax it regularly.

10. Emergency kit

A classic winter emergency kit kept in the boot is one of the most important things to get your car ready for the winter. Make sure to include: Antifreeze and de-icer, a torch, jumper cables, thick rope or a towing bar, small shovel, blanket, a first aid kit, energy bars, bottled water and extra warm clothing.