Here we are in a whole New Year and now face a few months of winter. With a north/south divide in evidence on the weather front prior to Christmas, none of us can expect to get away without encountering the white stuff and so we offer a few simple tips to help you in icy conditions. Where ice is, accidents usually follow, so beware!
Last year, the icy blast left Britain's road network difficult to navigate and many motorists were caught short. Even the most cautious of drivers found themselves in difficulties and so it is worth a few moments to think about the following check list.
Pump up your tyres – and check out your tyres
At this time of year, rain, snow and ice can make the roads treacherous. Pumping up your tyres to the correct level of inflation helps to lower the risks of skidding on icy conditions and better still, this can also improve your motor's fuel efficiency!
Worn tyres simply will not give you the traction you need on wet and icy roads. If your tyres are worn, replace them with a good set of all-weather tyres. Check the tread and the pressure (the legal standard is 1.6mm). The better the tread on the tyre, the better the grip which will in turn give you a massive advantage in treacherous conditions. If you can afford it, buy a set of winter tyres as these really are excellent in icy conditions – but you must have a full set of four tyres.
Check your lights
As we face dark mornings and evenings, make sure your lights are working properly. Replace any broken bulbs and make sure all of the lights function. Clean off any mud and grime to ensure you get the brightest light possible – this is for your safety and other road users too.
Check the battery is sound, charging properly and doesn't need changing. Colder weather puts greater strain on your car's battery and getting stranded at the roadside is the last thing you need. A reputable garage will look your battery and its connections over for you and this is well worth doing – especially if you are going on a long journey.
Anti-Freeze, screen wash and de-icer
If only it worked on us too! Check the vehicle's requirements for anti-freeze in your handbook and act accordingly. Most petrol stations stock antifreeze in their shops and it is a useful purchase in winter months.
Screen wash is invaluable in bad weather as you need more than ever to be able to see where you are going! Adding this to your washer bottle will help keep your screen cleaner for long and will prevent the water from freezing. Follow the measuring instructions on the bottle and keep a spare in the car as you will be amazed how often you use your windscreen washers in winter! Alternatively, you can add anti-freeze to ordinary water and fill up the water bottle with the mixture.
You can buy de-icer at any petrol station, supermarket or car accessory shop. This saves time in opening car doors and boots and generally de-icing the vehicle – including the windscreen. However, KEEP THE DE-ICER IN THE HOUSE – it's no good in your car if you can't open the doors!
Also, remember NEVER EVER use a kettle of hot water to speedily de-ice your windscreen. The dramatic effect of hot water on cold glass could well result in the windscreen shattering – leaving you with a hefty replacement bill. Patience is a virtue, so use the de-icers available, which are both speedy and safe.
Car cover – plastic, not insurance!
If you don't have a garage you may want to invest in a car cover. They are like massive barbeque covers and protect your vehicle from the worst of the icy conditions, allowing you to whisk off the cover instead of having to sweep off accumulations of ice and snow.
Never, ever risk running out of fuel – and certainly not in rotten weather as being stranded on a freezing road is no one's idea of fun. If you are going on a long journey, check the mileage and make sure you have enough fuel to get you to a place where it will be easy to refuel.
Brake pads and discs
Vital! Make sure your brakes are ready for winter and have them checked by a mechanic. Icy and wet roads can lead to braking distances being greatly reduced and excellent brakes are critical in ensuring you can stop in time.
If the unexpected happens
You can leave for your destination in fairly calm conditions then the wind changes direction and you are suddenly in trouble, especially in heavy snow or icy conditions. Plan in advance and put a few essentials in your car. These include: a torch, first aid kit, food, an ice-scraper, a spade, gloves, a warm coat and a blanket and a spare phone charger. Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged before your leave the house and contains all the numbers you are likely to need.
Drive carefully, drive safely
Most important of all is that you keep control of your vehicle. If your car is in good condition and you have thought about all of the above points, you have made yourself safe and prepared for the weather. Keep to the speed limits, follow local road and weather news and use your judgement as to how to proceed.
Hundreds of motorists across the UK break down every day – more in bad weather. Invest in breakdown cover, it really is worth it. Knowing that someone will come to your aid takes away much of the panic and frustration of being stranded and you will be glad that you have someone to come along and sort you out. If you can't choose which provider to join, talk to your insurance broker who can offer you advice on the pros and cons of the different company. Westhill Insurance Services is an independent insurance company who can offer sensible and impartial advice.
Make sure you have it! Check your policy is as you wish it to be, and if anyone else is driving your car, ensure they are fully covered to do so. Vehicle insurance is a legal requirement and if you are involved in an accident, whether it be your fault or the fault of someone else, you need to make sure you have adequate cover. Talk to a professional company – Westhill Insurance Services offer professional advice and will be able to help with all aspects of vehicle insurance – for both commercial and private use. As an independent company, they will find the best possible policy to suit your needs, at a price you can afford. Their advice and guidance is free and you will know you are in good hands.
The tips above will help keep you safe and hopefully you will come through winter with no claims on your insurance policy. Happy, safe motoring!
Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.