Driving in wintertime can be very difficult for you as a driver, but the unfavourable weather can also cause havoc with your vehicle, making periodical maintenance in the winter months crucial. For example, the salt laid on the roads in icy conditions and greater amounts of rainfall will cause corrosion and excessive wear and tear – therein, reducing your vehicles lifespan. Corrosion can cause unsightly rust spots, but more importantly mechanical parts which are out of view, can be weakened to the point at which vehicle safety can be compromised.
That said, you might want to take into consideration the following:
• See and be seen: The roads are normally more dirty in the winter, therefore, your car will be more difficult too keep clean. Pay attention in particular to your lights, windows and number plates – it is a legal requirement these are kept in order.
• Tyres and battery: The minimum legal tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, although you might consider having more than this, as it should aide with grip in tougher conditions (you could also contemplate fitting winter tyres, which are designed to be more efficient in colder, wetter weather). Vehicle batteries will lose power more quickly in cold conditions, so if you don’t drive your car for extended periods of time, the battery may drain and be unable to start the engine.
• Fluids: Keep your window washer bottle topped up and this will enable you to maintain a clean front windscreen – being able to see where you are going is obviously vital! Having antifreeze/coolant in your cooling system will prevent it from freezing, which could be catastrophic to an engine.
• Salt on the roads: When situations require it, there will be salt/grit spread on the roads to help with traction in icy weather. This will benefit greatly in reducing skidding, but the salts in the grit will cause damage to vehicles if it isn’t washed off regularly – metallic mechanical parts, paintwork and alloy wheels are most at risk. Having your vehicle serviced regularly can help in making sure any worn parts are fixed or replaced – this should reduce breakdowns or accidents caused by mechanical failure.
Trying to keep your vehicle in good condition will pay off in the long run, both in areas of safely and in your pocket. However, it is you as the driver with the biggest responsibility on the roads, so drive according to the conditions and always expect the unexpected, for yourself and everyone you share the roads with. Stay smart, be safe and you will make it through the winter months with minimum inconvenience.
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