Getting Ready For Winter Driving
Winter comes every year and every year many of us do not prepare for it. When the snow and ice appears it seems like a complete surprise to many. Snow? In January? At the weekend I was called upon to change over from summer to winter tyres for a lady living in Chineham just on the outskirts of Basingstoke. She drives a VW Polo and during the winter of 2012/2013 she was caught out in the snow and ice driving back home from Sandhurst. Traffic was crawling along the A30 because cars couldn't get up the hills and the conditions were quite treachorous. She explained that she was crying as she was driving as she was so scared that she might not make it home. Since then she has always had winter tyres fitted as she wants to be sure that she doesn't get caught out again.
So, are you getting ready for winter? Here are a few tips
1 - Check your tyres have a good tread depth. Don't run them down to the minimum 1.6mm and think that is ok. Change them at 3mm.
2 - Seriously consider fitting winter tyres, especially if you have any distance to commute or if you depend on your car for your job.
3 - If you don't fit winter tyres you can buy tyre socks for use if you encounter snow. Even snow chains. But consider this - would you really be in a position to start fitting them to your tyres when it snowing and blowing a gale? Winter tyres are the way to go.
4 - All season tyres are a possibility but they don't have the ability to adhere to snow in the same way as winter tyres do.
5 - Check your car battery is in good condition. A battery over 5 years old is more likely to fail in cold conditions. Do you have a battery charger? If you find that you have been having to charge it chances are that it is going to fail. Replace it for your peace of mind. Flat batteries are the most common cause of breakdown.
6 - Antifreeze/coolant. Make sure you are topped up with the correct strength of antifreeze/coolant.
7 - Windscreen washers. Top up with good quality screenwash. If your water freezes you can't wash your windows and you can't see where you are going. This is especially a problem when the roads have been treated with salt and it all gets flung on to your windscreen. Also keep a spare bottle of screenwash in your boot to top up or to splash on to your windscreen if your washers do freeze.
8 - Wiper blades - In the winter they suffer because you use them to clear snow and ice from the windscreen - check they are in good condition and replace as necessary.
9 - Lights - Keep some spare bulbs on board. These are cheap to buy - you don't have to go for top quality, just so long as you have spares on board.
10 - Fuel - make sure that you don't run too low - you may need to make an enforced diversion.
11 - Emergency kit/supplies? If the worst does happen you could do with - Warm coat/jacket, woolly hat, gloves, hi-viz jacket, strong shoes/boots, warning triangle, small snow shovel, muesli bars, water and of course your mobile phone.