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Don’t Worry About Winter With These Safe & Useful Driving Tips

Winter Driving Advice with Will Shepherd

Will Shepherd, BBC 3’s Young Mechanic of the Year, explains how to properly check your car in the colder months to avoid accidents happening that could be caused by ill preparation


“Winter is just around the corner – the weather will deteriorate and driving conditions become more hazardous.

Motorists are 50% more likely to breakdown at home in winter

Quick checks to make sure you’re ready:

Check the coolant level – the last thing you need is a frozen engine or for your car to overheat. Although it’s a sealed system and shouldn’t need to be topped up, you should always double check when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the correct coolant and mix to use should you need to top it up

Check your screen wash – again top the level up with a mix of screen wash additive and water to prevent the screen wash from freezing. There’s more muck and dirt on the roads during the winter, as well as salt, so its important to make sure you can keep your windscreen clean. And remember to keep topping the level up during the winter

Check that the oil level – this should be between the minimum and maximum mark and top up if necessary (refer to the owners handbook or local dealer for the correct oil spec)

Check that the battery terminals and clean and tight, (clean corrosion off with hot water and apply petroleum jelly)

Have the charging system checked by your local garage, this will ensure the battery and system is working correctly.

Tyres are the only connection between you and the road so make sure you check your tyres for general wear and tear – cracks, splits or bulges, and, more importantly, tread depth. Although the minimum tread level is 1.6mm, during winter it’s advisable to have 3mm of tread on your tyres to help with traction and grip. Also ensure that you have the correct pressure in your tyreswinter-article-check-pic

Lights – its vitally important to make sure not only that you can see where you’re going but also that other drivers can see you, Walk round your car and make sure all lights are working and that the lens covers are clean. Again lights get extremely dirty during the winter months so clean them on a regular basis

Finally, take a look at the wiper blades. Wiper blades are not everlasting and need replacing from time to time. Check the blades for splits or cracks and replace if necessary. Wiper blades can get frozen to the windscreen – don’t pull them off as you will damage them but make sure you free them off either by using the demister or de-icer”

Driving in foggy conditions – how to stay safe

When conditions are foggy, it means reduced visibility to motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users. This means it’s highly important to take the correct precautions to reduce any risks

Rule 235 of the Highway Code states that, before entering fog, you should check your mirrors, then slow down. If the word ‘fog’ is shown on a signal, but the road is clear, be prepared for a sudden bank of fog or drifting, patchy fog – there are actually a number of different types of fog and did you know that mist and fog are actually very different things? There is also a phenomenon called freezing fog.


How to check your lights and bulbs

Make sure you’re familiar with how to operate your front and rear fog lights before setting off, and don’t confuse these with your vehicle’s ‘full beam’ setting. According to the Highway Code, you must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres – roughly the length of a football pitch. If your car is fitted with automatic lights activated by low light levels, remember to check the lights are on, as they may not be automatically activated in foggy conditions

Similarly, drivers whose vehicles have daytime running lights should ensure rear lights are switched on as most vehicles with this feature only illuminate the front lights.

Follow the ‘two-second rule’ to leave sufficient space between you and the car in front.

Don’t attempt to navigate using the tail lights of the car in front, as these can give a false sense of security.

If visibility is very limited, wind down your windows at junctions and crossroads to allow you to listen out for approaching traffic. If you really cannot see, you should consider stopping until it is safe to continue.

If your car is fitted with air conditioning, use it, as it will stop the windows from misting up. Ensure the heater is set to windscreen de-misting and open all the vents. It’s also an idea to use the heated rear window and, if fitted, the heated door mirrors.

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