Gearing up your vehicle for the cold weather ahead

Winter weather is well and truly under way and the dark evenings, cold winds and falling snow are likely going to be a familiar sight through the next few months. From cuddling by the fireplace, a cup of hot cocoa with your friend, making a snowman or snow angel, and having snow fights – there are so many great things about winter! However, despite the festivities, the reality is that winter and the harsh weather that accompanies it can be cruel with rain, snow and ice making even the shortest journey more difficult. So it is important that we all take the necessary steps to stay safe, even on the tightest budget. Here are five top tips to get your vehicle ready for the colder months.

1) Don’t miss regular maintenance!

  1. Ensure all fluids are checked and filled up so that your car doesn’t break down. This includes coolant, oil and other fluids.
  2. Make sure your brake pads are in good condition so that your car will be able to stop quickly, especially in an emergency situation.
  3. Ensure your head lights and tail lights are in optimal condition so that the road will be well lit. It will get difficult especially with the fog, so don’t forget to change the bulbs and clean the lenses.
  4. Check your tyre pressure! When the temperature drops in winter, the air inside the tyres contract, thus lowering pressure inside the tyre. With a low air pressure, the tyre won’t be able to have proper contact with the road.
  5. Change worn wiper blades to increase visibility. You’ll also want to make sure your defrost function is working, to clear out the steam on your windows.

2) Switch to snow tyres

Tyres are the most important point to think about when heading into the winter months, after all they are your only contact with the road. But what makes them different from your regular all-seasons? Winter tyres differ from all-season tyres because they are made of a different rubber compound. This softer material is able to grip the road better, giving more traction and stability when driving in the rain and snow. Also, their threads differ from all-season tyres as they are made to evacuate water from the tyre, reducing your chances of hydroplaning (when the vehicle skids on water and loses control). You might want to save yourself a few extra pounds but don’t put your self at risk!

Tip: Don’t think all snow tyres have to be expensive – they can range anywhere from £50, to hundreds of pounds. If you have a look around, you’ll be able to find something to suit every budget!

3) Use snow chains

If the sound of snow tyres makes you cringe, a cheaper alternative (when the ice and snow really sets in) is to consider would be snow chains. This option is significantly more cost effective since you don’t need to purchase new rims and new tyres. Instead, these snow chains are mounted on top of the tyre’s rubber, which helps to give you that extra grip on the road through these snowy conditions.

“They are especially helpful when you are trying to go up an icy and snowy hill, as it provides more traction in snow and icy conditions. The downside? You need to take them off and put them back on. Snow chains causes damage on a clear road because its chains would dig into the tarmac. You must only keep them on during snowy conditions.”

If you’re prepared for a bit extra work to save your wallet – snow chains might be the best choice for you.

4) Be prepared with all the essential tools!

Handy items to keep close by this season include a snow shovel, ice scraper, and road salt. These items are your tools for assistance, especially if you should get stuck in the snow. Use a shovel to remove snow underneath your car and an ice scraper will clear your windows and aid in visibility. After all, who wants snow flipping down your windshield when you brake? Road salt is also useful to keep on hand if you’re stuck in icy conditions as just a small amount will help melt the ice on the ground – but remember to use it sparingly as it can cause rust on your car as well as those awful white lines on your shoes.

5) Keep an emergency kit on hand

Emergency kits are essential during extreme conditions. It’s never wrong to be prepared for anything and everything during this time of the year. Auto safety kits provide the essential things needed for only an average cost of £30! They come with a variety of items such as flares, gloves, jumper cables and more! You might also want to look for one with a towrope so that a vehicle can pull you out if you’re stuck in the snow. Don’t forget to keep a blanket in your trunk and maybe a few non-perishable items just in case you get stuck!

As a few final words of advice, my mechanic wanted me to remind you that money isn’t always the most important thing to worry about.

“Your wallet may get hurt, but your safety comes first. Make sure your vehicle is geared up for winter before it even leaves your garage.”

These tips will help you get through the harsh winter weather and could potentially help save your life. Use caution when driving, do not underestimate the weather, and always be in preparation for the unexpected!

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