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How to beat the freeze: Simple steps to ensure your car is winter ready

Slow: Navigating a snowy road in Derbyshire's Peak District.  As the weather gets colder, it's essential to make sure your car is fully prepared

How to beat frost: Winter can wreak havoc with our cars, but take precaution now and you won’t be caught off guard

Dark nights, dropping temperatures and Christmas commercials on TV can only mean one thing: winter is coming.

Now is the time to get your car ready. There are a few simple steps. Remember to book your car for a pre-winter review, for example.

Check antifreeze and coolant levels regularly, especially before a long trip, to prevent the engine from freezing or overheating.

Slow: Navigating a snowy road in Derbyshire's Peak District.  As the weather gets colder, it's essential to make sure your car is fully prepared

Slow: Navigating a snowy road in Derbyshire’s Peak District. As the weather gets colder, it’s essential to make sure your car is fully prepared

The groups of motorists, who last winter witnessed thousands of breakdowns, are also full of advice…


The AA says: ‘Two of the factors at this time of year that start to influence traffic collisions – broken lights and poor vision through the windscreen – tend to contribute to five or six road deaths per year, although last year saw this drop to Three.’

Supplement the windshield washer with an additive specially designed to reduce the risk of freezing in cold weather. Run your finger over the wiper blades to check for nicks and tears, as they tend to last a maximum of two years.

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And in freezing weather, make sure the wipers lift off the screen before turning them on, using defroster or hot water to free them.

Just like wiper blades, tires don’t last forever. The AA ( handles more than one tire-related failure every minute. And around a third of faulty tires have a tread depth below the legal limit of 1.6mm.

The AA recommends replacing a tire that is 2mm or less deep before embarking on a long trip.

It will also save you a fine and points on your license. Badly worn or underinflated tires can affect vehicle handling, especially during rainy and winter months.

Worn tires are more likely to experience a flat and aquaplane in wet weather. They also lead to increased fuel consumption.

Although many drivers rely on their tire pressure warning light to alert them, they must be checked manually.

Six tips for preparing for the cold

Under the hood

The RAC urges motorists to check their fuel tank level before setting out, noting: ‘You’d be surprised how many people have run out of fuel and with temperatures as low as expected you don’t want to get stranded.’

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Oil levels are critical, as RAC patrols find that one in three vehicles they attend are dangerously low in lubricants: “This can cause breakdown or, at worst, lead to catastrophic engine damage.”

The RAC says its patrols deal with more than 400,000 battery-related outages each winter, as cold weather takes its toll on older batteries, and humidity and ice wreak havoc with electricity when batteries have to work a lot. stronger.

To help motorists do their own checks, the RAC ( has its own acronym — FORCES — meaning: Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics, Screen-wash.

what to pack

If there’s a severe weather warning but you can’t avoid driving, carry your own winter car emergency kit, the AA says.

This should include: an ice scraper; defroster; a torch and spare batteries; a first aid kit; a fully charged cell phone and power bank; and a spare empty fuel container.

Bring warm and waterproof clothes; sturdy shoes; a flask of hot drink; and snacks to maintain your energy level.

Also bring a hi-vis reflective/fluorescent jacket; a warning triangle; jumper cables if you have a petrol or diesel car; and a shovel.

On the road

Before heading out in bad weather, check the forecast and make sure you have fuel. Stay on main roads and avoid rural or hilly areas if possible.

  • Watch your speed, brake gently, anticipate problems ahead and remember that in snow and ice, stopping distances can be increased tenfold.
  • Keep windows clear of snow to ensure maximum visibility. A dirty windscreen contributing to an accident could be construed as reckless driving and result in a fine of up to £100 and points on the licence.
  • Fog can be a major hazard. So turn on the car’s fog lights, slow down, increase your distance from the vehicles in front of you. But switch off the fog lights when visibility improves or risk a £50 fine. Halfords offers anti-fog treatment (£6.29) for windscreens that lasts up to five days.
  • Driving in the blazing sun is another winter driving hazard, so keep a pair of sunglasses in the car at all times.
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