The colder weather brings with it more difficult driving conditions and the increased risk of a breakdown. As a result, motorists can often find themselves unexpectedly stranded in their vehicles.
Our vehicles need a bit of extra TLC at this time of year as we put them through their paces on journeys through wind, rain, sleet and snow. Here we take a look at the precautions you can take to protect your car.
How to prepare your car for winter
Carry out a few routine checks to ensure your wheels are up to the rigours of winter driving. Spend a bit of time on this now and it could save you the hassle and financial burden of an avoidable breakdown or accident further down the line.
1. Make sure your vehicle is serviced.
2. Regularly check the oil level, anti-freeze, hazard lights, wiper blades and battery.
3. Check the tyres for tread depth and pressure. Upgrade to a set of winter tyres for your car.
4. Clean your lights regularly and check the bulbs.
Find out more about winter tyres
Check you’re carrying all the essentials
5. Make sure you’re carrying de-icer and an ice scraper. De-ice your car before you travel, and ensure all windows are fully cleared of snow, frost and condensation.
6. Prepare an emergency breakdown kit, including a torch, bottled water, blanket, warm and waterproof clothing and a first aid kit.
7. Other items to pack include a reflective triangle, high-visibility jacket, jump leads and shovel.
8. Also think about leaving a selection of snacks and drinks in your boot in case you end up stuck in your car.
Read our guide to maintaining your car in winter
Plan your journey
9. Spend time planning your journey, and don’t make unnecessary trips if the weather has turned.
10. Leave extra time for journeys in poor weather.
11. Tune into your local radio for regular traffic and weather reports and advice.
12. Ensure your mobile is fully charged.
13. For longer journeys, let someone know when you expect to return.
Driving a long distance? Use our tips.
How to drive carefully
No matter how long or short the journey, it's vital to be extra vigilant on the roads during the winter.
14. Leave more space between you and the car in front, and drive more slowly.
15. Stay alert at all times and look out for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
16. In cold or icy conditions, try to avoid braking hard.
17. Dropping gears instead of applying brakes can prevent skidding.
Stay safe driving in wet weather.
How to be prepared in case of a breakdown
18. When wild weather is on its way, that’s the time to check your car policy is fully up to scratch.
19. If you don’t have comprehensive breakdown cover in place, buy it now. It’s a policy that doesn’t need to cost the earth, and will give you peace of mind that you’re protected and could prevent you having to endure a long wait in the cold.
Visit our Motoring section for information on cars, caravans and motorbikes.
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