Preparing Your Car for Winter Journeys

With snow already seen in the North of this country over the last few days, and as Christmas and the holiday season is approaching, many of us will be planning our trips to see family and friends over the next couple of weeks. But do you remember last year, when chaos hits the roads and hundreds of vehicles got stuck in the snow drifts, with others stranded overnight on motorways and some B roads were actually closed down? We can’t help the weather but we can prepare ourselves and our cars to make sure that we are ready for most eventualities. There are a number of measures you can put into place before you set off to ensure you have a safe trip and don’t get caught out by bad weather. Have a look at our check list.

#1. Give Your Car a Check Over

Make sure your anti-freeze, screen wash, oil and water levels are topped up. Check your tyres are inflated to their correct level, you will find this in your owners manual or most garages have a chart with pressure ratings on them by the air pressure pump. Also ensure the tread on your tyres is as it should be. Having the proper tyre tread is essential when driving in snow or ice as it grips the road more efficiently. Keep a pair of sunglasses handy in your glove compartment as the winter sun shining off snow can give off quite a glare.

#2. Get Breakdown Cover BEFORE you Leave

According to the AA, numbers of breakdowns in the winter increase by upto 50% and call out charges are expensive, not to mention trying to find a local garage in an unfamiliar place. Be aware however that there are different kinds of breakdown cover available. Basic roadside assistance will get a recovery patrol coming out to your vehicle and trying to restart it at the roadside. If it can’t be repaired, your vehicle will be towed to the nearest garage. Roadside assistance and relay will recover your vehicle and have it taken to a garage of your choice – or sent to your home with qualified mechanics. It will also cover the driver and passengers for unexpected accommodation costs and any car hire required.

#3. Put a ‘Survival Kit’ in Your Car

Last year many motorists were stuck for hours, if not overnight in freezing conditions on motorways and other roads that were impassable for recovery vehicles to rescue them. If there have been severe weather warnings and alerts that you should not drive then try not to but sometimes there can be emergencies. If you have to go out, pack a case with the following items: food, hot drink, water, torch, several blankets and a shovel. Make sure you are wearing several layers of clothing and sensible shoes or boots and ensure that your mobile phone is fully charged before you set off on your journey.

#4. Get Information

Finally, tell the person you are visiting your expected time of arrival and before you leave, ask them if they know of any roads that have been closed off or are particularly dangerous to drive on. Keep in constant contact with them and have your radio on in the car to get weather updates.

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