In winter, driving conditions can be significantly worse than at any other time of the year due to the unpredictable weather. Rain, snow, ice and cold wind all contribute to tougher driving conditions. On top of that, the days are much shorter, which means more driving in the dark.
But fear not! We have compiled a driving checklist for the winter months, with some of the most important things you need to consider before winter arrives.
The first thing, as obvious as it may seem, is to have a good look at your car and think about whether it’s ready for winter. Have you remembered to have its MOT test carried out?
If your car is five years old or over, or has had a lot of issues lately, maybe you should consider investing in a new car . This might seem costly at first, but it might save you money in the long run as you wont have to pay for expensive repairs or breakdown charges. You can’t put a price on peace of mind! You may want to invest in an SUV or a 4x4 for your next car for extra safety during winter.
As the days get shorter and nights get longer, you will get less and less sunshine, which means that the lights on your car will quickly turn into your best friends. Some things you need to consider are whether the light bulbs in the headlights are working properly – if you haven’t changed them in a long time, you might want to change them before winter comes to ensure they work at all times. It’s also a good idea to keep the lenses clean from dirt and snow for maximum visibility.
As the driving conditions in winter can be much worse than any other season, your tyres need to be in their best condition. If snow’s forecast, you might want to buy some snow chains or winter socks, or new winter tyres. These kinds of tyres are sturdier and have a different tread pattern, making them more resistant to the slippery roads and snow.
A couple of things to remember: the legal limit for tyre depth is 1.6 mm (but we recommend you change your tyres when you get down to 3 mm), and tyre pressure should always be topped up.
Another very important thing to consider is the screenwash you’re using. You will probably need to change the screenwash you were using in the summer with a winter one, which has added freeze-resistant liquid. Always make sure it is topped up!
Not sure how to check your screenwash? Just watch our step-by-step video to find out how.
In winter, the most common cause of breakdowns is a flat battery as it gets used a lot more – for sustaining the lights, heating and wipers. Your best bet is to keep the battery charged and get it checked regularly. The battery should be checked at least once a week to ensure that all is running smoothly.
You might be surprised to hear that you don’t just need your air conditioning system to keep you cool in the summer months. In fact, the same system is equally effective at keeping you warm in the winter. This is why you’re advised to ensure that yours is working properly, as apart from keeping you and your passengers warm, it also keeps the windows dry, improving visibility. There are other benefits too, such as removing unpleasant odours, preventing the build-up of harmful bacteria and even keeping fuel costs down.
You can book your car in for a free air conditioning check at your local Arnold Clark branch, where any problems will be diagnosed.
While all of the parts in your car matter, this is the most important thing to look after. Engines fail to start below a certain temperature, which is why it’s essential to use the correct antifreeze. Your manufacturer handbook should include information on the right antifreeze to use and how often you need to change it – following these guidelines can save you from a costly replacement of a broken engine.
It’s essential to get your engine checked with a mechanic before winter starts even if you haven’t experienced any issues with it, just to be on the safe side.
Don’t forget to always have these items in your car: a spade (for shovelling snow), a scraper (for your windshield), first-aid kit, napkins or paper towels, blanket or an extra jumper, a rope, fresh water and some snacks (in case of a breakdown).