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Ready, steady, winter!

tyres driving over snowWinter is often a beautiful season, full of ice crystals, snowy days, Christmas trees and warm, mulled wine. However, it is also the time of year when there are more likely to be problems on the roads. Break downs and accidents in cold, dull, drizzly weather increase during the winter months and it’s vital to ensure that you and your car are prepared for the coldest season of the year in order to keep yourself as safe as possible.

A check-up for your car

Most of us keep our cars in generally good condition all year round, however as we go in to winter it’s worth taking extra precautions so you don’t suddenly get stuck on the roads. Things that you should make a note of checking include:

  • Car battery. Ask a mechanic to look at it in case of defects and if it’s over five years old then it’s a good idea to replace it.
  • Fuel. You should always keep a minimum of a quarter of a tank for unexpected circumstances.
  • Antifreeze. Check your coolant levels regularly and make sure that you have the optimum concentration to protect your car.
  • Lights. These are a particularly important part of your car as you will rely on them heavily for safety as you travel in dark, wet conditions. You should always make sure that all of your lights are clean and in good condition. Ideally, you should also carry spare bulbs in case you get caught out. Don’t forget that driving with lights out can be a criminal offence.
  • Windscreen. Again, this should be clean both inside and out and this is an ideal time to replace worn wiper blades if necessary. You need to keep your windscreen clean and clear to reduce any glare or dazzling sunlight and also have good levels of high quality screen wash.
  • Tyres. The minimum tyre tread is 3mm and in certain situations it might be a good idea to have winter tyres fitted. Check the tyre pressure at least once every two weeks and ensure that all tyre checks include your spare tyre. You never know when you might need it.
  • Tools. Make sure that you are carrying the necessary tools to replace a tyre with the spare and to change any bulbs that have blown. It doesn’t need to be an extensive tool kit, just something to get you to safety should something go wrong or you can consider taking out RAC breakdown cover which is an optional extra available to new driver Go Girl policy holders.

You and your passengers

You never expect to break down, or become caught up in a traffic jam that’s twenty miles long, but unfortunately these things do happen sometimes. Plan ahead with an emergency winter kit and make life easier should something happen.

A winter kit should include:

  • A torch and spare batteries
  • Sleeping bags or thick blankets
  • Bottles of water and snacks (e.g. chocolate, cereal bars, nuts, crisps; anything that will keep your energy up during a long, cold wait)
  • A shovel
  • De-icer and an ice scraper
  • Extra warm clothes, gloves, hats, footwear and waterproofs

No one plans to need an emergency kit, or to be stuck miles from home, but if the worst does happen then you can reduce the impact on you, and your car, by being prepared.