It’s important to be alert on the roads all year round, but especially so in winter as hazardous driving conditions occur much more frequently. National Windscreens has some tips on how to stay safer at the wheel and ensure your vehicle is in the right condition to take to the roads during the winter months.
During the winter months, snow, ice, frost, wind and rain all present different challenges. National Windscreens advises having your car checked by a professional, but if you’re doing it yourself, it’s vital you know which components must be checked.
Make sure your car is in tip top condition and check in on these key things:
National Windscreens warns drivers to get small windscreen chips repaired quickly. Freezing temperatures increase the likelihood of this damage turning into a crack, which results in the need for a windscreen replacement. Never try defrosting your windscreen using hot water!
Remember, if a windscreen needs replacing and your vehicle has Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) fitted, the equipment must be calibrated to ensure these safety systems continue to work as intended. Getting a chip in the windscreen repaired can be up to 10 times less expensive than replacement and calibration combined, so act promptly to save time and money.
Always make sure your tyres are at the right pressures and have sufficient tread depth. In winter, as the temperature drops, so does the pressure in your tyres. It may be worth fitting winter tyres, which are manufactured with deeper treads and softer rubber, to deal with the colder temperatures and potential for ice and snow.
Ensure all your car's exterior lights are operational; everything from the headlights to indicators and even the number plate. During the winter, heaters, de-misters and lights are used more, causing strain on the battery. Cold weather can also have an adverse effect on batteries, making them less efficient. Keep an eye on your battery, make sure you switch everything off after your journey and consider investing in a battery charger just in case.
WIPERS AND WASHER FLUID
Driving without full visibility is both illegal and dangerous, for you and other drivers. De-icing correctly and checking your washer is topped up ensures a clean, clear windscreen and windows, which subsequently helps visibility. Make sure the wiper blades are clean, to prevent smears and damage from debris.
FUEL AND CHARGE
It should go without saying, but especially before longer trips, check that you have enough fuel or charge to get to where you’re going, and plan for stops to refuel or recharge en route. You don’t want to get stuck on the motorway in the cold.
Driving tips in challenging conditions
Diverse conditions require you to adapt your driving, so know how to control your car. Speed must be reduced significantly and your following distance must be increased. Try to accelerate and decelerate more gently too.
Take care when passing cyclists and pedestrians; they’re also fighting the same battle as you during inclement weather. If you cannot see as far down the road as usual, open the window and turn down the radio to listen out for any incoming traffic.
Remember to pack your car full of emergency equipment too! Top essentials include: a shovel, de-icing equipment, a first aid kit, a torch, jump leads, a mobile phone charger and food and water.