Preparing your vehicle for the long winter ahead.
Here are some of the things you can do quickly and easily:
- Check the operation of all exterior lights and keep them clean. Replacing failed bulbs or fuses is usually straightforward.
- Clean the windscreen and windows, inside and out, regularly. Use a cleaner intended for car glass - household window cleaners can leave a smeary film.
- Check the condition of wiper blades (which are simple to replace) and windscreen washers. Keep the washer reservoir topped up and use an additive with antifreeze properties.
- Each week and before long journeys, check the tyre pressures (including the spare wheel). Check also the tread depth - 1.6mm is the legal minimum but for good grip on wet roads, it's better to replace tyres once the tread depth is 2.0mm.
- If you expect to do a lot of driving on snow-covered roads, consider buying a spare set of wheels with tyres especially designed for these conditions. In the Alps, it is a legal requirement to carry a pair of snow chains and fit them when conditions demand.
- Check the level in the coolant reservoir and top up as necessary with a water/antifreeze solution. The coolant (with antifreeze) should be changed every two or three years.
- Ensure the battery terminals are tight and not corroded. You may get a free battery and charging system check at a car accessory shop or fast-fit specialist. Don't wait for your battery to fail - replace it in good time.
- Carry an emergency kit - spare fuses and bulbs, jump leads, a torch, water dispersant spray and de-icer.
- On slippery roads, drive slowly, smoothly and gently. Accelerate gradually, steer gently and brake smoothly. Arrange tuition on a skid-pan through your local driving school or the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
- When parking overnight in freezing conditions, leave your car in gear with the handbrake off if it is safe to do so. This will prevent the handbrake freezing in the 'on' position.