Keep safe on the roads this winter
WINTER can also be a time of motoring horror. So here’s how to keeping safe on the roads this winter.
With winter weather looming - nobody wants hefty motoring bills. Ensure your car doesn’t get damaged this winter by regularly checking your fluid levels.
You might want to consider checking and/ or changing your oil, anti-freeze and even your brake fluid.
The cold weather, ice and snow make driving conditions more dangerous. Make sure that all bulbs are working and that lenses are clean. When roads get really dirty –– such as when driving on slushy and wet motorways — you might need to clean lights after every journey. If you have to clear snow from the car it’s important to clear it from the lights, front and back, as well as from the glass and roof. Good tyres and correct pressures are key to your winter safety. Often road accidents have a tyre problem association.
Battery and electrics Lights, heaters and wipers put high demands on the car battery. If your driving is mainly dark rush-hour trips, the battery will give out eventually.
Batteries rarely last longer than five years. Replacing one near the end of its life can save a lot of time and inconvenience at the side of the road.
Avoid running electrical systems any longer than necessary — turn the heater fan down and switch the heated rear window off once windows are clear.
If the car stands idle most of the weekend a regular overnight trickle charge is a good idea to give the battery a chance to revive.
Turn off non-essential electrical loads like lights, rear screen heater and wipers before trying to start the engine.
Use the starter in short five-second bursts if the engine doesn’t start quickly, leaving thirty seconds between attempts to allow the battery to recover.
Antifreeze A continuous squealing noise as soon as the engine is started is a sign the water pump is frozen - it’s the fan belt slipping on the pulley.
The cylinder block could be frozen too. Stop the engine immediately and allow it to thaw out. This may take several days unless the car can be moved to a heated garage.
If the car begins to overheat a few miles from home it’s likely that the radiator has frozen preventing coolant from circulating. Stop straight away to avoid serious damage and allow the radiator to thaw.
Antifreeze is not expensive, but a frozen and cracked engine block will cost hundreds to repair.
Most modern cars use long-life antifreeze — it’s important to use the right type and avoid mixing different types. Check the handbook or ask a dealer for advice.
Some types of antifreeze may need to be changed after only two years. Check the manufacturer’s service schedule.
You need a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water in the cooling system for winter. This gives maximum protection down to -34° centigrade, and without it, severe engine damage costing hundreds of pounds can occur.
Dazzle from a low winter sun can be a particular problem.
Improve vision by making sure that the windscreen is clean both inside and out. Scratches, abrasion and chips on the outside can also worsen the dazzling effect of the sun.
Greasy smears on the screen that don’t go with use of a normal screenwash additive will require a little elbow grease. Try using a cream glass polish with a slight abrasive action. If that doesn’t work then try dishwasher powder dissolved in a little water — Use clean kitchen paper to clean a small area at a time and try not to go back over a patch you’ve just done.
Use air conditioning for faster demisting and to reduce condensation on cold windows.
Check windscreen wipers and replace if necessary.
Make sure that wipers are switched off in the park position when leaving the car, when there’s risk of freezing. If you don’t and the blades freeze to the screen, you could damage the blades or wiper motor when you turn the ignition on.
Top up Windscreen washer fluid and treat with a suitable additive to reduce the chance of freezing. Don’t use ordinary engine antifreeze as it will damage paintwork.
Before you go Get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car. Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key for a frozen lock. Don’t breathe on the lock, as the moisture will condense and freeze. — AA/
The cold weather, ice and snow make driving conditions more dangerous.