We appreciate that drivers will have to cope with a variety of conditions and situations, from busy main roads to extreme countryside. For some, changing to snow tyres will be a priority, for others much less so. Of course, the British climate cannot be relied on to provide consistent conditions. However, we do know that at some stage, winter driving will throw plenty of ‘stuff’ at us – be it frost and snow, or rain and gales.
It’s therefore, vital that, just like you add clothing layers with the seasons or change to winter bedding, you get your car ready for whatever might happen across the season. Here are some valuable yet simple actions and tips our Service Department recommends you to consider...
Colder conditions can reduce air pressure, so it’s important to carry out a regular check and inflate as necessary. This improves road contact, which is why you should also check that tyre depth is legal right across the surface, and look for any wear or cracking on older tyres.
Outside, check your windscreen surface for any tiny chips which could lead to serious problems, especially at times when there is likely to be more material flying up from treated roads. At the same time, ensure your wiper blades are not damaged or worn, and are ready to cope with the increase of rain, sleet or snow, and also salt. Make sure your wiper fluid is filled, and uses a preparation that will help prevent it freezing. Inside, have a supply of demister cloths and the like, and make sure your window and other heaters and air vents are all in working order.
• UNDER THE BONNET
When temperatures drop, this can cause damage to belts and hoses, so do check they are all in good condition and not suffering from wear and tear. Oil thickens as temperatures plummet and therefore circulates less well. Check that your oil is of the proper viscosity for winter conditions. Make sure your anti-freeze is of appropriate strength and topped up to the correct level. Finally, think of your battery. If it could, it would shiver on frosty or freezing nights. Chill mornings reduces its capacity at the same time as asking it to deliver more oomph. It’s useful to get it tested, and also to check for any corrosion around the connections.
It's vital to know they will work properly when road conditions are less favourable than through the rest of the year. This is an area where professional advice is really valuable, and our JT Hughes Service team are always ready to help.
Two final points to remember
Firstly, if you have a 4WD option, it also pays to have an expert check that it’s going to engage smoothly and is in the best working order. Many drivers might not rely on this feature much during the better weather months, so it does pay to be sure.
The final tip is what scouts always say – be prepared. This means checking weather forecasts and driving conditions before setting out, and for both ends of longer journeys. For these, it also means making sure you have essentials such as a first aid kit, shovel for digging out, extra clothing, some emergency food and drink supplies and the like. Also, know that your mobile is charged, and anticipate any areas where the signal might be weak. If conditions are poor, it’s wise if someone knows where you are going and your anticipated arrival time.
Of course, this winter may not be that bad. But, it does pay to take a little time getting your car ready for winter and the worst sorts of weather, rather than wishing you had at a later stage!