One of the most important things you can do before you set out on a journey this winter is to thoroughly check your vehicle and inventory before you set off. Some items such as a first-aid kit, road map and reflective warning sign you should carry at all times in your car, but in winter make sure to have the following:
One of the most common reasons the RAC gets called out in winter is for flat batteries, because they run down quicker in colder temperatures.
As far as vehicle maintenance goes, checking your battery is one of the most straightforward tasks to undertake by using a car battery tester. You will need to purchase a battery tester – some just show a green or red light for a charged or uncharged battery, whilst others offer a voltage read-out. A reading of less than 12.4 volts is generally a sign that the battery needs to be charged, but always refer to the manual. It is recommended that you check your car battery at least once a week during winter and charge it if required.
Ensuring that the level of coolant is between the minimum and maximum markers should be part your routine car maintenance. However in winter it’s also important to make sure that there’s sufficient antifreeze in the coolant. Have a look at your handbook, browse tutorials online or get a local garage to check the strength. Anti-freeze is cheap while damage from a frozen engine can be very expensive to put right.
Make sure you have enough screenwash in the tank. The screenwash concentration must be suitable for cold conditions in the winter. Not all variants and brands are the same so look for the temperature it protects down to. The minimum protection you want is down to -35°C at a dilution of one part screenwash to one part water. Wiper blades can become frozen to the glass in winter, so take care when freeing them up.
Check the condition of your tyres to make sure that the tyre tread is deep enough. Use this handy RAC tyre tread guide if necessary.
Check the tyre pressure often, and make sure to look out for any splits or bulges.
If you live in an area at high risk of snow consider buying winter tyres or snow socks which give your vehicle greater traction and control.
If there is a storm approaching, snow on the road or icy conditions outside, first consider if your journey is really necessary. If you’re unsure, a good place to start is the Met Office Cold Weather Alert website which runs from 1 November to 31 March every year. If the warning level is yellow, amber or red, or police have closed roads near you, think twice before heading out. Another useful resource is the Highways Agency Traffic Information site, which checks for congestion on major roads.
However some journeys are vital, so here are some hints and tips for driving in wintry conditions.
Having breakdown cover is invaluable if you break down in bad winter weather. With MORE THAN car insurance you can opt to add breakdown services provided by the RAC.
Remember to take your breakdown telephone help-line number with you on all journeys. If you’re affected by snow, storms or high winds and need help with making a claim, MORE THAN claims helplines are available 24 hours a day.
Find out more about insuring your car with MORE THAN.