Make sure you’re armed for all scenarios with our tips for keeping you and your car safe this winter.
The colder months do bring some joy with them: cosy nights in, the sound of autumn leaves crunching beneath your feet, Christmas holiday cheer. The weather isn’t quite so much fun especially if you’re a motorist. Take a look below at our 10 top tips to keep you safe.
1. Keep your fuel, anti-freeze and screen-wash levels topped up
Make sure you’ve topped up your fuel before you start your journey. It sounds silly but it’s always best to have more than less at least half a tank is recommended.
Make sure you're topping up the screen wash regularly so as not to run out mid journey. In the winter months you can also add some anti-freeze to help clear the frost. It’s probably best to keep some spare anti-freeze in your car too, just in case.
The RAC is the provider of SAGA Breakdown Assistance and they have some short videos to help you carry out some of the winter checks, click here to view.
2. Check your oil and coolant levels
Your oil level should be kept topped up to the maximum mark on the dipstick. It’s also worth keeping a litre of the manufacturer’s recommended oil in your boot in case you ever get a bit low (you should be able to find out the oil information for your car in your vehicle’s manual). When it comes to radiator coolant, the colour of it should be blue or pink and oil free. Make sure you top it up with a pre-mixed anti-freeze solution until it reaches the top mark.
3. Carry a winter car breakdown kit
Some must-have equipment for your winter breakdown kit: a torch and spare batteries, an ice scraper, a first-aid kit, an empty fuel can, jump-start cables and a spare jumper to keep you warm. No one wants to be left stranded in the cold.
4. Check your battery
Battery failure is one of the most common cause of winter breakdowns as the extra demand on it from lights, heaters and wipers takes its toll. Click here to see how to check your battery before setting off on your trip.
5. Keep your car squeaky clean
This may seem strange, but it’s surprising how the wintery months really can take their toll on a car’s bodywork. A good car wash and a layer of a reputable car wax will give some protection against the mud, snow and road salt you’ll encounter with each frosty journey. Plus, this will also make it easier to scrape the snow and ice off when it gets chilly.
6. Get ready for driving in winter conditions
Winter conditions present several challenges for drivers, such as reduced visibility and skidding on ice-covered road surfaces. Try not to travel in the snow, but if you have no alternative, there are a few key rules. Accelerate gently, change to higher gears smoothly and as soon as possible, and maintain as much as ten times your usual stopping distance. To stop your windscreen from misting up on the inside, keep the air conditioning on throughout your trip. Put your fog lights on if you can’t see 100 metres ahead and don’t forget to switch them off when visibility improves again. Check out more driving tips here.
7. Check your lights
Lights aren’t just so you can see, but so you can be seen too! Make sure your lights are working before setting off. It’s also important that your lights are clean and there’s nothing on them, like mud, that could reduce their shine. It’s a good idea to carry spare bulb too.
8. Adjust your tyre pressure
The legal minimum tyre tread is 1.6mm which is roughly the depth of the edge of a 20 pence coin if you want to use it to check your tyres. For winter driving it’s best to make sure you have 3mm of tread and to inflate your tyres to the recommended PSI level (you’ll find this in your vehicle handbook or in the sill of the driver’s door). Remember to check your tyre pressure every couple of weeks and don’t be tempted to reduce the pressure for better grip.
9. Check your locks and doors
Make sure you don’t get locked out of your car on freezing cold mornings. A smear of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals will stop them from freezing shut and a squirt of WD40 should work on the locks.
10. Check your breakdown and insurance cover
It’s important all year round to have confidence in your car insurance and breakdown cover, but it’s even more important during the winter. Winter weather can result in more accidents and breakdowns so make sure you’re covered for all eventualities. If you already have a policy with us, you can check your car insurance details and much more at MySaga. Claims information can be found here.