Never forget that the condition your car is in can make the difference between life and death when driving on the UK’s roads.
That’s never more true than during the colder months, which in the five years to 2017 saw 1.56 million cars involved in a crash due to wintery road conditions, figures from the Association of British Insurers show.
Doing the wrong thing
Many people make sensible car checks before the winter kicks in, but a good number don’t do anything, or in fact make matters worse by doing the wrong thing.
From failing to check your tyres to pouring hot water on the windshield, here’s what you shouldn’t be doing to your car this winter:
Don’t deliberately lower the tyre pressure. Many people believe that lowering the pressure in their car’s tyres will increase the grip on the road. However, this simply isn’t the case and can make matters worse.
Don’t leave worn out wheels on your car. The ‘tread’ on your tyres (the pattern of gaps which help the tyre grip the road) shouldn’t get too worn. Always check tyres well before winter and replace any if necessary.
It could even be worth changing to those specifically made for winter, especially if you live in a very cold part of the country.
Hot water to clear ice
Don’t pour boiling water on windows to clear ice. It might seem like an obvious thing to do, but freezing temperatures might mean the glass cracks. The best idea is to fit a frost cover when you’re parked up.
Don’t leave wiper blades which aren’t working or are worn out on your car as clarity of vision is crucial, especially in wintery conditions. Get them replaced immediately.
Clearing snow and ice
Don’t set off before fully clearing ice and snow from your car. The police can fine you if you don’t as it can be a driving hazard and contravene the Highway Code.
Don’t disconnect the battery. Some drivers think it’s a good idea to disconnect the battery when the car’s not in use cold weather to conserve power. It won’t actually help, however, and could in fact damage it. Use a charger instead and keep it on overnight.
Stop liquids freezing
Don’t forget to top up your windscreen water with washer fluid. If you use plain water, there’s a risk that the water could freeze and cause damage to the reservoir bottle.
Don’t set off without an emergency kit in the car, including warm clothing, a shovel, blankets, water, hazard-warning kit, torch and spare tyre.
Don’t take short cuts (if you don’t know the roads). Being clever to avoid queues and accidents might seem like a good idea, but surrounding roads will almost certainly be in a worse condition than those with more traffic on, which are more likely to have been gritted or cleared than minor roads.
Don’t drive faster than normal. Even if you’re very late for something, don’t be tempted to drive fast! Even just a few miles an hour more means a much further stopping distance in cold, icy conditions.
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Published 23rd November 2018