Winter maintenance guide
Winter may be a time of year that is synonymous with Christmas and present-giving, but the reality is that the cold and icy conditions create havoc for car owners everywhere.
Last year, on December 2nd, the AA reported attending to an average of 1,150 breakdowns every hour. Not only is this a ridiculously high figure, the drivers of the broken down vehicles could have been in a much worse situation.
Luckily for them, however, they avoided expensive call out fees and hours of helplessly waiting at the side of the road by previously taking out an adequate breakdown cover policy.
It is advisable for every driver to take out at least a basic breakdown cover policy, to avoid any and all problems on the road, as well as generally preparing for the worst.
In addition, there are things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of such breakdowns occurring, which we will talk about below.
Remember: the key is being proactive.
First of all, this may seem obvious but it is vital that you do not attempt to drive your vehicle until your vision is clear. This means that you must clear you windscreen of any ice that could obstruct your view.
The chance of being involved in an accident is significantly increased if your vision is unclear and you will be most likely be held accountable for any damage caused.
In order to save yourself money on paying for damages, as well as possibly saving your life, it is recommended that you leave the house around ten minutes earlier than usual in order to ensure clear vision. Put your own safety before punctuality.
Keep a scraper and some de-icer on you at all times to help clear the ice, as well as utilising your air conditioning to speed up the demisting and condensation removal process inside your car.
Furthermore, in terms of visibility, police issued a warning last year that they would prosecute any drivers who do not remove loose snow from their cars before driving.
This is because the snow can fall off your vehicle can cause obstruction to the visibility of other motorists and turn into a significant danger.
Regularly ensure that your vehicle is stocked up with anti-freeze, as this well prevent your engine and radiators from freezing in the winter, thus helping to avoid any potential damage to these parts.
Fixing a damaged engine is a lot dearer than buying a bottle of anti-freeze.
Time for another seemingly obvious one now: make sure you keep an eye on your car's oil levels, as low levels of oil can cause significant damage to your engine. Remember that oil is essentially the 'blood flow' in your cars system.
You can test your oil levels with the use of a dipstick, which has two marks for indicating a maximum and minimum level. Always ensure that your oil levels are between these two points at all times.
One of the most common reasons for motorists to seek breakdown cover assistance in the winter is due to having a flat battery - which makes up around one-third of the total number of call-outs.
In order to avoid becoming one of the statistics, you should make sure that you do not use the features that will drain your battery, such as additional use of heaters and lights, any more than necessary.
Switch off your heaters as soon as your vision is restored. Would you rather be cold in your working car or freezing out in the open with an unusable vehicle?
In terms of your tyre's tread, the AA recommends that motorists have no less than 2mm tread depth on your tyres - and preferably 3mm for winter driving. The minimum tread depth by law may be 1.6mm, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, it is recommended that you check your tyre pressures at least once a week during the winter months, in order to ensure that they reach the manufacturers recommended levels.
If you can follow all of these tips, as well as any other additional ones, then you will help to minimise your chances of breaking down in the winter.