Winter is here! With a chill in the air and crunch of frost underfoot, there can be no doubting the harshest season of the year is upon us. When it comes to driving, Winter weather can lead to accidents and issues on the road, so here at Trust My Garage we’ve put together some advice for helping you to stay safe during the cold season.
Plan your travel
Before setting off, be sure to check ahead that your route is clear of accidents and other issues that can cause delays, and that the roads haven’t been shut due to poor conditions.
Check your tyres
If you have the opportunity and need, winter tyres could be a viable option for your vehicle. If you use your normal tyres, ensure they are inflated to the recommended pressure and have a minimum tread depth of 3mm across the width and circumference of the tyre in order to cope with the slippery and wet conditions.
Check for faults
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.
Check the dashboard
If your car is displaying a warning light on the dashboard it’s important to get it checked – the systems are there to keep you safe! If your vehicle isn’t performing at its best it could lead to breakdowns or accidents, so be sure to keep it in the best possible condition. If you aren’t sure what the lights on your dashboard mean you can take a look at our Getting to know your vehicle’s dashboard blog post to give you a breakdown of what you need to know.
Even though most of us have the luxury of heating in our vehicles, if we break down or have an accident we can often be at the mercy of the Winter chill. By dressing warmly and layering up you can keep warm – and you could even save money on your fuel consumption!
Keep supplies in your car
In the case of a real emergency it’s important to keep supplies in your vehicle. Items such as a torch, blanket, biscuits, water, a hot drink, a hat, scarf and gloves, and a mobile phone charger or battery pack are always helpful to keep you safe and warm. You should also keep something to put under your tyres if you get stuck, and a shovel to clear any snow.
Control your speed
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) recommends:
“When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible. Start gently in second gear, avoiding high revs. Stay in a higher gear for better control. Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.”
Your stopping distances also increase tenfold on ice, so be sure to leave ample room between any surrounding vehicles to stay safe on the road.
Read road signs
While you may use familiar roads while driving, any changes to the surface or temporary problems should be highlighted by road signs – so keep an eye out for any updates. Signs will also post any road closures or other issues, so be sure to look around for any information possible.
If you’re driving on unfamiliar roads then it’s even more important to check road signs – nobody wants to get lost in the snow and ice! By employing careful, steady driving, you can give yourself enough time to read and process any information you need to know.
Know when not to drive
If conditions are too dangerous, the safest option is simply to not drive. Although it will delay you, it’s the safest option – and no drive is worth injury, no matter how small. It’s important to keep an eye on weather forecasts, so you don’t plan a journey when the weather is going to be particularly bad. Driving safe means that you can drive happy.
If you’re looking to embark on some winter travels, 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!
It’s that time of year again. The nights draw in earlier with each passing day, you wake up in darkness and going outside without your big coat is tantamount to ordering your own death wish. This is the time of year when you appreciate you car the most, because let’s face it, can you imagine having to queue up at a rainy bus stop on a bitterly cold morning? No, thought not.
Whilst your levels of affection towards your car may raise, they definitely don’t feel the same love from nature, with the cold weather finding various ways to inflict damage on them. Whilst we’re all aware that regular checks are vital, very few of us actually carry them out.
In fact, there are statistics to back that statement up. A Trust My Garage survey carried out earlier this year found that a whopping 84% of motorists neglect to carry out basic, regular checks on their vehicles.
Admittedly it’s tough; you’ve come back from a long hard day of work, it’s pitch black outside and all you want to do is sit in front of the TV and hibernate until the morning. However, by failing to carry out basic checks, like oil and engine coolant levels, you’re putting your car massively a risk, resulting in costly repairs or even the inconvenience of having no car at all, and that’ll mean having to get that bus to and from work (shudder).
Don’t worry though, because simply by following our simple advice you can ensure you keep your car WARM this winter.
So what does WARM mean? Well you’ve noticed it’s capitalised and therefore it must be an acronym, and as with the very best acronyms it reads as a word that’s relevant, like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). WARM is an incredibly simple acronym that will help you give your car all the required love it desperately yearns for during the winter months.
W is for WIPERS
We all know the importance of windscreen wipers as without them your visibility can often be reduced to zero, especially during those drives where the rain stubbornly refuses to pass. Your wipers take a lot of flack in order for you to be able to see the road in front of you, with the cold weather causing them to crack and split, so you regularly need to make sure that they’re in good condition.
If you notice your wipers aren’t clearing the rain away properly or if they’re leaving smears then you need to start thinking about replacing them. Reduced visibility in bad weather will seriously jeopardise your safety – and for just a few pounds you can get them easily and quickly replaced.
A is for ANTIFREEZE
Antifreeze is a component of most, but not all, engine coolants. If you want your engine to work properly then you need to have the right concentration of coolant. Coolant levels should be regularly checked. If you have ever topped up the system with plain water then the anti freeze will have become diluted.
Make sure that once week you have a quick check of the water coolant reservoir to ensure the liquid inside is at maximum level. If you notice it drop then there could be a leak in the system, something you really want to avoid.
Because all cars are different make sure you use the right type of antifreeze by checking your handbook or consulting your local Trust My Garage member.
R is for RUBBER
There are two important things to keep in mind regarding your tyres: whether they have the right amount of tread and whether they’re correctly inflated.
Driving on wet and icy roads is challenging even for a seasoned driver. Over or under-inflation can affect steering and braking, and if the tread on your tyres isn’t at least 1.6mm-the legal requirement for cars and light vans- then they’re going to struggle and put you and other drivers at risk. Having sufficient tread will help prevent skidding and dreaded aquaplaning, when your car loses traction and is lifted by the water on the road. Sound scary? It is, terrifyingly so, so check your tyres!
For more information on checking your tyres and the things you can do yourself, visit the Tyresafe website here.
M is for MAINTENANCE
Cars are not only expensive pieces of equipment but yours most likely holds an important place in your heart, like a metallic member of your extended family. Therefore it makes sense to look after it by carrying out a few basic checks every week and regularly getting it serviced at your trusted dealer. Whilst it may be a bit of a chore, these easy tips will not only keep you safe, but also increase the longevity of your motor, saving you money in the long run.
How else can I keep my car WARM?
A simple service from a local Trust My Garage (TMG) member can ensure that your vehicle is safe and fit for driving. TMG members have access to technical information and expertise to ensure your car remains roadworthy in the harsh winter wonderland that will soon envelope us.
Where is my local Trust My Garage Member?
To locate your nearest Trust My Garage member and take advantage of quality service at an affordable price, simply log onto www.trustmygarage.co.uk and type in your postcode to see a list of Trust My Garage members in your area. Members of Trust My Garage are true professionals – local independent businesses which are part of your community. Trust My Garage is the truly independent scheme for independent garages.