Essential Winter Checks

As more bad weather is expected, Only Motors’ car reviews editor Tim Barnes-Clay is offering advice to drivers to ensure their cars are prepared for the cold season.

Here are the essential winter checks he advises you should carry out:

  • Ensure your lights are fully working; if a bulb is out you will need to replace it before starting your journey or go to a garage and get it fixed straight away. Keep a spare set handy in the car. If you are caught driving when your lights are not working you could face a fine of up to £1000.
  • Check your washer bottle is filled with screen wash to remove any debris and grime from the screen; water on its own does not work as well. And make sure your windscreen wiper blades are working properly too, without leaving lines or smearing the screen.
  • Check the brake fluid reservoir under the car bonnet, and if it is lower than it should be get the car seen by a mechanic urgently. Driving in this way is dangerous.
  • Check your cars tyre conditions regularly – the legal minimum for car tyre tread is 1.6mm. Use a tread depth gauge to measure them and check the tread surface is not worn out. If you’re driving with tyres below the legal minimum tread depth you can be given a fine of £120. To avoid this you must replace defective tyres immediately.
  • Anti-freeze should be topped up all year round, so don’t neglect this over the winter. Ensure it is filled at the correct mixture to stop the coolant in your car from freezing. Check you have the concentration of the fluid right for the temperatures you expect.
  • Make room for a winter driving kit in your car for any unexpected emergencies and breakdowns. Your winter kit should at least include: a blanket, torch, shovel, and a fully charged mobile phone so you can contact your breakdown service provider or any family/friends when your car breaks down. Make sure you have these phone numbers programmed into your mobile phone.
  • Make sure you have last year’s ice scraper and de-icer at the ready and ensure they are still effective, or get new ones for this year. Frost can strike overnight; don’t wait till it’s too late.

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