Winter is definitely here and with Christmas only five weeks away (yes we said it!) it is important that you take safety on the roads very seriously as they become more dangerous at this time of year.
Breakdowns are extremely common over Christmas; just as you want an extra five minutes in bed on a cold morning it seems our vehicles react in the same way! So below are some top tips to ensure that you don’t break down over Christmas:
On average, it is unlikely that your car battery will last longer than five years especially if you mostly drive during rush hour. With this in mind it is prudent to replace your battery before it gives up on you on Christmas Eve on the way to visit your family. If your battery isn’t close to life just yet then there are a few things you can do to ensure that it runs smoothly:
• Try not to run electrical systems for longer than they are needed – when your windows are clear remember to turn off the heated windows and once you are toasty and warm turn down the heating.
• If you don’t use your vehicle over the weekend ensure that you start the engine every now and again – think of it as alarm to your seventeen year old, they need to be reminded that you cannot sleep for 48 hours straight!
• If your engine isn’t running try and switch off anything else that could be using the battery such as the heating or lights which use the battery even when there isn’t any charge going to it.
• If your engine isn’t starting as quickly as usual make sure you leave at least 30 seconds before trying again – this allows time for the battery to recover.
Antifreeze is the best Christmas present you can give to your vehicle as it stops the water from freezing. If you switch on your engine and your vehicle is screaming at you it is likely that the water pump has frozen and it is possible that the cylinder block is frozen too. If this is the case then unfortunately you will have to wait until it has thawed out.
If you can also see that your vehicle is overheating only a few miles after setting out on your journey your radiator could have frozen. This prevents the coolant from circulating properly and your vehicle is reacting the same way you do after not having the appropriate amount of coffee in the morning! If this happens then you need to stop and wait until it has thawed. This is just one of the reasons why you must ensure you always have anti-freeze – it costs a tiny amount compared to a frozen and damaged engine!
Before topping up your levels you need to check what anti-freeze your vehicle has in it already as many of the newer models have a long-life anti-freeze and you don’t want to mix different types! You should be able to find this information in your hand book or you could call the dealer.
You also need to ensure that you have a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze as this will give your engine protection up to -34 degrees.
Another huge factor during the winter is visibility – there tends to be a lack of it in unpleasant weather!
You need to ensure that your windows are clean: if your visibility is not as clear as it should be for any reason from snow to too many stickers on your windscreen you could face a fine. It isn’t just your windows that you need to be mindful of – if it has been snowing, clear the snow from your roof too. When traveling at speed snow can fall from the roof onto your windscreen as well as cause a hazard to others on the road if the snow was to fall off the back of your roof and onto another driver’s vehicle.
It is just as important for others to see you on the roads as it is for you to see them. So once you are sure that your windows are clean it is time to assess your headlights. They all need to be working and the lenses need to be clean. If the roads are especially dirty you might need to keep checking the lenses regularly throughout the winter. A working headlight that is covered in dirt is just as useful as a broken headlight!
You also need to ensure that your numbers plates are clean and well-lit. Don’t forget to also switch off your fog lights when visibility improves as they can dazzle other drivers and can sometimes obstruct your brake lights.
If you follow our top tips for keeping safe during the winter you will reduce your chances of an accident occurring and needing to claim on your car insurance – at Christmas time this is an extra hassle that you just don’t need!
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