Motor journeys in winter can sometimes be a daunting prospect. Breakdowns can be almost twice as frequent as during other months and the road conditions can be extra challenging, especially during periods of snow and ice. But there are a few simple measures you can take to ensure that you and your vehicle are in the best and safest possible condition for winter driving.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Use your garage if you have one. This will help to keep your car or van warm, preventing the engine from freezing up. It also means that you won’t have to spend valuable time de-icing the windscreen and windows.
Be aware that lights, heaters and wipers place extra loads on the battery. Batteries usually last up to about five years, so it could be worth replacing it before winter if it is near the end of its life. Start the engine before turning lights, heaters and wipers on, and turn them off when they aren’t necessary. Air conditioning helps to demist quickly. Use your vehicle regularly to keep the battery active and always remember to turn your lights off when you finish a journey.
Visibility can become seriously impaired during winter. Always make sure the windscreen and other windows are clear – this is a legal requirement as well as common sense. Clean them both inside and out and be aware that any scratches can make dazzle worse. There are various products that can help to clean dirty windows, from normal screenwash to cream glass polish.
Clear snow from the roof before setting out as this can fall onto the windscreen. Always keep windscreen washer fluid topped up and check the wipers regularly to make sure they’re in good condition. It’s good to get into the habit of leaving them in the lowest position when parked so that they don’t freeze to the windscreen, which could damage the blades.
Winter can be a more stressful time to drive, so you should always ensure you are alert and never drive when tired. Use theAA Route Planner to plan your journey – a good idea even if you know the way to your destination, as it gives live updates on road conditions.
Make sure you have essentials to hand such as de-icer and a windscreen scraper, along with items such as water, food, a blanket, torch, spare batteries, high-visibility vest and insurance policy details in case of breakdown or accident.
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Keep your mobile charged and invest in a mobile car charger if you don’t have one. Let someone know your route and keep them updated on your progress when you take a break.
Check out our Survival Guide for Winter Drives blog for more tips on driving in challenging winter conditions.