Every year winter seems to roll around again far too soon. Those icy blasts we’ve already experienced are a bitter reminder that the time has come to ensure the cars we drive need to be prepared for the chilly season. With that in mind, here’s our guide to keeping your motor in tip top shape during those harsh months.
Given the volume of slush and ice on the roads, it goes without saying that tyres should be your first priority. Winter tyres may offer that safety piece of mind for some drivers, but that comes at a cost. Although mandatory in some countries, it isn’t compulsory for UK drivers to use another set of tyres for this season (although, given the recent unforgiving winters we’ve endured, that might change soon). At the moment, it’s best to ensure that your tyres fall within the 1.6mm legal minimum tread depth, but it goes without saying that the deeper they are, the better they perform on wet and icy roads.
Clean your lights
It’s always advisable to check your full beam headlights and fog lights are in correct working order, particularly the latter, which may not have been touched since your last MOT or even the previous winter. However, all lights, indicators and rear reflectors should be briefly inspected to ensure they’re clean and ultimately visible for other drivers on the road, particularly after your car has been sat stationary during a heavy snowfall.
Visibility is a real issue during the winter months - not only due to heavy rain and the morning frost, but also that annoying reflective glare you’re confronted with on those rare occasions the sun decides to come out. With all this in mind, it’s imperative that both your windscreen and windows receive a regular clean, inside and out. Keep a de-icer can or spray at hand at all times, and ensure your screen washer fluid is regularly topped up. There’s nothing worse than running out of wash and straining to look through your windscreen when it’s caked in smudged grit, and all the wiping in the world won’t shift it. It’s also advisable to keep a regular eye on your wiper blades and replace them if the adverse weather has damaged them.
Winter car breakdown kit
Although the idea of putting together an emergency pack might be instantly dismissed as overly-precautious by some, it’s worth bearing in mind that those who have had the misfortune of being held up on a motorway for several hours during sub-zero temperatures would have undoubtedly appreciated a torch, some kind of blanket and most importantly, and a supply of food and drink as they sat awaiting any movement. Add to those items a hi-vis vest, jump leads and a small shovel of sorts, and you’ve prepared yourself as best you can for any disruptive wintertime car trips.
Is your journey really necessary?
Before you head off on your own in the kind of hazardous and extreme weather conditions that would cause Sir Ranulph Fiennes to have second thoughts in trekking through, it’s worth considering if it really is essential to travel, and that maybe your trip to the local Asda for a tub of Heroes can wait until the snow has died down at least a little.