Keep safe on the roads this win­ter

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

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.

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