Winter Driving Tips

February 22 2013

As a motorist it is really important to keep your car in top condition especially during the colder months. You can save yourself money, you will be safer on the roads and will save yourself time and hassle. Something you may be comfortable with, some not but you can pick and choose what you want to do and what you would rather leave to the professionals.

1. Carry out basic fortnightly checks- Check the oil level,  check the coolant level, the brake fluid and the screen wash. Running low on any of these essential fluids can kill your car in minutes.Checking tyre tread

2. Check the tyres and be more vigilant then usual- The roads generally are in a far worse condition during winter, potholes can rip a tyre’s sidewall and not cause a blowout risk until you reach higher speeds. Tyres worn below 3mm in tread depth will be useless in snow and ice, if you don’t have a tread depth gauge insert a 20 pence piece into the tread grooves, if the border around the edge of the coin is visible then the tyres are below 3mm in tread wear. If you come to Motor Marque we will give you a free easy to use tread depth tool.

3. Smear a little petroleum jelly around the rubber door seals of your car. This will stop the door from freezing shut after a hard frost.

4. Check your lights! Have you seen any cars with one headlight and sidelight completely out? It can be lethal, on an unlit road the offending car coming towards you looks like a motorbike until you get closer. Check headlights be pulling up to a wall and looking for two similar patterns. Very roughly at one metre, the top of the beam should be about knee height. Check Headlamp Beam Imagebrake lights by reversing up to a wall or garage door, look for two or three pools red light. Most cars now have a third high-level brake lamp.

 

 

 

 

5. Near the end of a journey switch off none essential electrical items. Like the radio, heater fan and heated screens. This will give the alternator or electrical generator some time to supply most of its power to the battery and give it a much needed top up! Do the same before you start up, don’t have any electrical items on as you start your engine. Batteries are much better now than ever but they also cost a lot more, so helping your battery out is never a bad idea.

6. On a frosty morning gently lift the wipers away from the screen. This ‘un-sticks’ the rubber blade from the screen meaning the wiper motor isn’t strained or worse broken and the wiper blade are not torn as you first put the wipers on.

7. Do spend an extra 5 minutes properly clearing the windows and mirrors, it is so tempting¬† just to get in and go, especially when it’s freezing. Many accidents in winter are caused by motorists having poor visibility, I was always told- “It’s better to be late in this life than early in the next!”

8. Like a boy scout, be prepared! Is your spare tyre inflated? Do you have the jack and locking wheel nut key? Does your car even have a spare? You need to know even if you have breakdown cover. Is there a warning triangle in the boot or a first aid kit. Does your car have ABS or traction control? In ice and snow ABS can dramatically increase stopping distances and if you are not prepared it could take you by surprise. Have a mobile phone charger in you car just in case your beloved smart phone let’s you down as mine often does.

9. Change a wheel, if you do get a flat and decide it is safe to change  your own wheel follow these steps-

  • Put the car in first,reverse or park if it’s an auto. Use wheel chocks if provided or even make do with a block of wood or stone.
  • Make sure it is on level ground.
  • Put your warning triangle out and your hazards on. Many horrific accidents have occurred when cars on the side of the road have been hit.
  • Check the spare is safe and has pressure in it.
  • Before you jack the car up, loosen the wheel nuts or bolts. You may need to position the brace at the 9 o’clock position and stamp down on it with one foot.
  • Once the nuts or bolts are just loose, jack the car up. Take great care! The jacks provided are unstable and flimsy, never have any part of your body underneath the car!
  • Remove the nuts or bolts, if the wheel is stuck on (very common) you may need to lower the car, loosely re-fit the nuts or bolts and give the wheel a sharp kick.
  • Swop the wheel over taking care to line up the holes and not damage the threads.
  • Tighten the nuts or bolts without applying much pressure. Lower the vehicle off the jack and then really tighten the fasteners. With the small brace provided you won’t over-tighten them, so pull like hell to ensure the don’t fly off when you get going.
  • Don’t forget your triangle and if the spare is a ‘space saver’ you will have a fairly low safe speed limit, usually written on the spare or in the handbook.

If you have any queries or would like us to get our hands dirty instead we will happily offer a free of charge visual health check. Just call our team 0113 2242011 or call in.

Motor Marque Ltd.

Clayton Wood Close,Clayton
Wood Industrial Estate,
West Park, Leeds LS16 6QE

Tel: 0113 224 2011

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Motor Marque MD, Mark Frankland regularly appears as an expert commentator on driving and car maintenance programmes on both the BBC and Channel 4.

As seen on channel 4 and the BBC.