Win­ter MOTORING

The Oban Times - - ADVERTISING -

WITH win­ter fast ap­proach­ing, motoring safety is to the fore. Road users should be fully pre­pared for the ad­verse weather of the High­lands, es­pe­cially when plan­ning long jour­neys over the fes­tive pe­riod. The High­ways Agency rec­om­mends check­ing a ve­hi­cle be­fore win­ter weather hits, in­clud­ing mak­ing sure the tread depth on tyres is safe, brakes work prop­erly and the heat­ing is fully func­tion­ing. Al­though the min­i­mum tread depth on tyres re­quired by law is 1.6mm, the AA rec­om­mends that mo­torists have no less than 2mm, and prefer­ably 3mm, for win­ter driv­ing.

Tyre pres­sures are also im­por­tant. It is rec­om­mended that you check these at least once a week dur­ing the win­ter, en­sur­ing that they reach the man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­mended lev­els. These can be found in the ve­hi­cle hand­book or on a sticker on the in­side the driver’s door.

Reg­u­larly check that a ve­hi­cle’s an­tifreeze lev­els are be­tween the max­i­mum and min­i­mum. This will help avoid po­ten­tial dam­age to the en­gine or ra­di­a­tors, which will be much more ex­pen­sive to fix than the cou­ple of pounds it would cost to buy an­tifreeze. Keep an eye on oil lev­els with weekly checks. Low oil lev­els can cause sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to an en­gine, as oil is ba­si­cally the blood that passes through the car’s sys­tem. Bear in mind that most car man­u­fac­tur­ers fill mod­ern ve­hi­cles with longer last­ing an­tifreeze, which should not be mixed with tra­di­tional so­lu­tions. If un­sure about what fluid to put into a ve­hi­cle, it is rec­om­mended that ve­hi­cle own­ers con­sult their lo­cal deal­er­ship or a qual­i­fied me­chanic. Flat bat­ter­ies are one of the most com­mon rea­sons for mo­torists to re­quire break­down as­sis­tance in the win­ter, mak­ing up about one-third of the to­tal call­outs.

The ad­di­tional use of heaters, lights and other elec­tri­cal com­po­nents on the car all add to the strain placed on bat­ter­ies dur­ing this pe­riod. Car bat­ter­ies gen­er­ally last no longer than five years, so if a bat­tery is com­ing to the end of its life as win­ter ap­proaches, it might be worth­while chang­ing it in or­der to avoid the in­con­ve­nience of a break­down. The High­ways Agency also sug­gests that driv­ers put to­gether a win­ter emer­gency kit for their car, with cru­cial items such as warm cloth­ing, a torch, de-icer, ice scrap­ers, shovel and boots.

Check the lat­est traf­fic in­for­ma­tion and weather fore­casts be­fore set­ting out and be pre­pared to al­ter plans if weather con­di­tions are par­tic­u­larly bad.

It may be a case of leav­ing ear­lier or leav­ing a lit­tle later or sim­ply plan­ning the best places for rest stops along the way.

A win­ter ser­vice for ve­hi­cles is a must and should be done at least a week be­fore any long jour­ney.

The bet­ter pre­pared a ve­hi­cle is, the smoother all the win­ter jour­neys.

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