The UK is well into winter, so motorists should be keeping safe on our roads – but new research has shown drivers are unprepared for motoring in the chilly season!
Halfords, which commissioned a survey of 2,000 motorists, has found nearly half of all drivers surveyed admitted they have not conducted any maintenance checks on their vehicle – so how can you make sure you’re ready to face the cold? The Trust My Garage blog is here to help! Check out our top tips below.
Antifreeze – keeping the chill at bay
Antifreeze is clever stuff that stops the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing! It also does several other important jobs, making it a vital car fluid to keep your engine running smoothly.
As well as preventing water from freezing up, antifreeze raises the boiling point of engine coolant to prevent overheating. The stuff also protects your engine from corrosion, aids heat transfer, and prevents scale from building up internally.
How do you use it? There’s the concentrated form, or the ready mixed with water kind. The latter version is commonly referred to as engine coolant and can normally be used straightaway for top-ups and replacements. The concentrated form needs to be diluted with water, usually at a level of around 50% antifreeze and 50% water. Always check the pack’s instructions for the right ratio to use.
Tyres – putting rubber to the roads
Tyre pressure and tread can be crucially important during winter, as poor tyres can cause your vehicle to slip across wet and icy roads.
To keep your tyres at optimum performance you’ll need to make sure your tyres are correctly inflated and have adequate tread across the circumference of the tyre – you’ll find the BAR/PSI you need in your vehicle’s Owners Manual or inside front door frame, and it’s recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip.
If you aren’t sure how to check your tread depth, you can employ ‘the 20p test’, which you can find out more about here. If your tyres fall under the 1.6mm legal limit you could face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre!
If you’re looking for more information about checking your tyres you call also check out our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” post for all your tyre-based needs.
Brakes – stop the ride!
Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be serviced regularly. This is especially important during winter months, but how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?
It’s a case of making sure you check them regularly, as the winter months can be very wet and sometimes puddles can be difficult to avoid. When driving through a puddle, make sure you test your brakes afterwards by driving at a slow speed and gently applying pressure.
Listen out for warning signs, as brakes will let you know when there is a problem – whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side while driving, which could indicate a fault with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedals are also a sign you need to take give your car some attention -so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.
Remember, that you can always take your car to your nearest Trust My Garage member to get the brakes checked – it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Faults – how can you steer clear?
If you notice a fault with your vehicle, such as a cracked windscreen, dim headlight, or poorly charged battery, it’s important to get it sorted before undertaking any winter driving. If you feel there is a fault but aren’t sure how to proceed, you can always take your vehicle to a local garage to have it looked at by a professional – you can even use the TMG Find a Garage map to locate your nearest Trust My Garage member.
If you’re looking to hit the road this winter, you can take your vehicle to your local Trust My Garage member. Whether it’s for a check-up, service or repair, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved code of conduct that our members use mean that you and you motor both get the best possible service – no matter the weather!
With the new on-the-spot fines for middle-lane hogging coming into play this July there is lots to think about when cruising down the motorways at this time of year.
Two thirds of Britons are taking a summer holiday in the UK this year, which is up from 41% in 2012. When travelling abroad vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of airlines, railway executives and cruise ships providers but when you drive to a staycation, maintenance of your car is your own responsibility. With all the excitement about getting away this year, are we all thinking about preparing our cars for long motorway journeys?
It is vital that you check your car is safe for motorway journeys by taking it to a Trust My Garage member for a service. Over one hundred people died on UK motorways in 2011 and 740 were seriously injured. A number of these accidents were results of mechanical faults and vehicle defects, causing such things as; tyre blow-outs, brake failure, and steering mechanism failure.
“So what can I check in order to prevent inconvenient breakdowns and dangerous accidents?”
The most common type of steering problem is loss of power steering assistance due to damaged hydraulic pipes or a loose drive belt; normally indicated by heaviness in your steering. Smaller modern cars have electric power steering and any problem here may be accompanied by a warning light on the dashboard.
Last summer it was revealed that the number of people convicted for driving with dangerous or defective tyres was a massive 9,369. If your tyres are inflated too much or too little then you are putting yourself and your passengers at risk of a tyre blow-out, which effectively causes the tyre to explode, making you unbalanced and causing you to swerve out of your lane. This is more likely on a motorway where the tyre temperature is higher because of the sustained high speeds and you will need quick reactions in order to stop safely. It is important that you check your tyre pressures according to your handbook recommendations before you set off for a motorway journey.
Unsafe brakes can be caused by worn brake pads, leaking brake fluid, or mechanical failure. You should regularly check these, and especially when you are heading for the motorway as responsive brakes are essential when stopping suddenly at such high speeds. If you are starting to feel increased or decreased resistance when stopping then it is time to consult a trusted garage.
All fluids under the bonnet should be checked regularly, but even more so if you are about to take a long journey on a motorway. These include brake fluid, oil, engine coolant – if any of these are running low you run the risk of breaking down on the motorway, which is dangerous with other vehicles moving past at 70mph – so make sure you are all topped up before you set off on the motorway and don’t forget to check the temperature gauge as your journey progresses.
If you are unsure about any aspect of your car, your warning light is flashing or your engine is making a grumbling noise, that’s the time to take it to a Trust My Garage member for a professional service. You can find your nearest trusted garage by entering your postcode in our postcode finder HERE