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There’s a chill in the air and the nights are getting longer. You’re probably making more journeys in the cold and dark, so you don’t want your car to let you down. In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about keeping your vehicle up and running in the winter months. Then, we’ll give you some winter driving tips to keep you safe on the roads, whatever the weather. Let’s get started.

Winter checks

Before the weather turns seriously cold, it’s advisable to check seven things on your vehicle to make sure you’re ready. The RAC recommends the acronym ‘FORCES’ to remember those seven checks. Let’s go through them one by one:

  • Fuel – An obvious one, but still worth remembering. Make sure you have enough fuel before you set off on a journey and keep an eye on your levels as you go. You don’t want to get stranded in freezing cold temperatures.
  • Oil – Not having enough oil in your engine can cause breakdowns and seriously damage your vehicle. Check your oil level regularly and fill up (with the correct motor oil) when necessary.
  • Rubber – In winter, you should have at least 3mm of tread on your tyres to help grip the road in slippery conditions. Check your tread, and if they’re worn, it’s time to invest in some new ones. You should also check the pressure on your tyres to ensure you’re fully inflated. Finally, don’t forget the rubber on your wiper blades. They’re there to help your visibility on those dark and foggy days. 
  • Coolant and antifreeze – Coolant and antifreeze stop your engine from freezing or overheating. While you shouldn’t need to top up your coolant, it’s always worth checking yourself to be sure. If you need a hand, talk to H&L Motors and we’ll be happy to help.
  • Electrics – Cold weather can affect car batteries as they get towards the end of their life. Make sure your car starts first time – whatever the weather – by getting your battery checked at your local garage. You should also ensure all the lights on your vehicle are working well. See and be seen.
  • Screenwash – Finally, make sure you have enough screenwash in your car before you set off. Winter brings more grime on the roads, so being able to spray your screen greatly aids visibility. Ensure you use a quality screenwash resistant to very cold temperatures. 


Safer winter driving

Your car may be in tip-top condition now, but what about you? Driving in winter – especially if there’s snow or ice on the roads – is all about being careful and avoiding accidents. Here are some tips to help you get to your destination safely. 

Before you set off, make sure you leave enough time for your journey. Roads can be slower in wintry conditions, and you don’t want to take unnecessary risks because you’re in a rush. Try to plan a route that sticks to major roads rather than shortcuts, as well-driven roads are more likely to be clear and gritted. Next, leave some extra time to de-ice your car windscreen and clear the mist from the inside. Finally, be aware of how you’re feeling. If you’re tired or have a winter cold, it might be worth getting someone else to drive.

During your journey, safety is always the watchword. Try to avoid spinning your wheels, as it can cause you to skid. When driving, try to keep a constant speed (especially on hills) and be gentle on your brakes to avoid skids. If the roads are icy or snowy, stopping distances can be up to ten times longer, so be sure to leave enough space between you and the car in front. 

Listen for any sounds coming from your vehicle that may tell you something isn’t right. If you’re in any doubt, call your local garage to check things over.

Keep calm and carry on

Wintry conditions shouldn’t stop you from doing all the things you want to do. With a little planning and care, you can be safe and secure on the roads until things heat up again next year. 

If you haven’t had a service within the last 6 months, we would always recommend our seasonal check service, to check your levels and ensure your car is in good condition to face the wintery months.

And if you have any questions or concerns about driving this winter, you can always call H&L Motors on 020 8977 5865 and we’ll be happy to help you.