As temperatures start to plummet, driving on the roads can become increasingly difficult and hazardous.
To stay safe, it’s important to adjust your driving style according to the weather conditions, and carry out the necessary vehicle checks before you venture out.
We’ve teamed up with Jonathan Allbones from leading car supermarket, The Car People, to put together these top tips to help you tackle the big freeze from behind the wheel.
Make sure your tyres are suitable for winter conditions
Most UK cars are fitted with either summer or all-season tyres, however these tyres will not perform at their best in extremely cold conditions. Winter tyres are designed to be flexible in extreme cold, providing a better grip on snow and ice. Although not mandatory by law, they’re a great way to help keep you safe in icy conditions, especially in rural areas.
Top up your coolant with antifreeze
Most modern cars now come with a sealed cooling system that shouldn’t need topping up. The coolant should be a 50/50 split between water and antifreeze, but this can dilute over time. This can result in freezing and potential damage to the engine, so ensure your coolant is at the correct level before making any journeys during winter. It should always be between the ‘MAX’ and ‘MIN’ levels on the side of your expansion tank.
Defrosting your windscreen
If you’re a car owner, then you will no doubt dread having to defrost your windows before hitting the road on an early morning. The best and safest way to clear your windscreen is to use a scraper and de-icer. Starting the engine, switching on the heated rear screen and mirrors, and allowing air-conditioned air to circulate to gently warm the glass also helps speed up the process. Ensure you don’t leave your car on its own with the keys in the ignition, and double check that your windscreen and all windows are fully defrosted before you drive off.
Get set for longer journeys
Long journeys are very common during the festive season, as people drive far and wide to spend Christmas with family and friends. It’s important to plan your journey and be prepared for any adverse conditions that might make driving difficult. Check the weather, traffic news and safest routes before you begin your journey, and make sure you have warm clothes and food packed, should you break down.
Prepare a winter car breakdown kit
Winter car breakdown kits are essential to carry in your boot during the colder months. A range of kits are available, with most including a hi-vis vest, snow shovel, torch and thermal blankets. Other recommended items also include snow grips for your shoes, non-perishable food and drink supplies, and a phone charger, in case you break down.
Check your breakdown cover
A fully comprehensive breakdown cover is vital if you’re driving during the winter months, and will give you piece of mind that you won’t be stuck if you do break down. Before you venture out on the roads, double check exactly what you are covered for.
Download a weather app
Keeping on top of the weather conditions is vital during the winter months. Before you make a car journey, download a weather app to your phone and double check you won’t encounter any wintry conditions during your journey. If you think you might encounter particularly bad weather, it is worth postponing your trip until conditions have improved.