Wednesday 14th November 2012
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Winter driving doesn't have to be difficult. If you're well-equipped, and your car is in tip top condition, then driving in the winter months should be a breeze.

The UK weather each year can be really unpredictable. Some years it's mild and others are horrendously cold and freezing. The weathermen can only predict; more than often than not they get it right, but on rare occasions they are not so accurate. The question is are you prepared for any unexpected weather to turn up?

It is a fact, that the North of England is more prone to intense weather conditions, lower temperatures and darker nights than the South of England. So, where you live can also make a difference. Our aim is to help prevent any surprises that may pop up, by explaining some good practises for getting your motors ready now.

Winter driving strategy

Whatever your journey, it's always best to be prepared before driving anywhere, but particularly during winter driving. Now the UK clocks have gone back one hour winter will soon be upon us.

Before winter does creep up, it would be really good practice to have your car serviced and MOT' as, this will ensure your car is in tip top condition. All lights, battery, wiper blades, fluids (especially anti-freeze), tyre depths, brakes and much more will be checked over.

If your MOT is set for the summer months, then make sure you at least have a full service. Once this has been done, you will have peace of mind, but throughout the winter season keep checking the lights, tyre depths and fluid levels. It is important that fluids are kept topped up for the cars windscreen wash and radiator water using as mentioned before antifreeze.

If you live in a more hazardous area that is prone to frost, freezing, black ice and snow consider having summer tyres and winter tyres. Depending upon where you live in the UK, October is often the best month to change the tyres over.

Always have tyres inflated to the correct pressure and make sure the tread is deep. Did you know? The cold weather deflates tyres by 1 psi for each 10° drop in the temperature.

Top 15 winter driving checks

Before any journey it is good practice to carry a survival pack. It is easy to make your own up, this would be:

• Take food
• Have a warm coat handy
• Have ample water and even a flask of hot beverage
• Make sure your car battery is topped up as they can use up more power when starting your car on cold mornings
• Take a blanket or duvet
• Make sure your car heating is working as you will not only need to keep warm but also de-mist the windscreen.
• Have extra clothes, hiking boots or your wellies!
• make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone. A phone car charger would be great to have as a back up.
• A fully functional torch and extra batteries
• Plenty of de-icer
• At least 1 kilo of salt
• Up to date first aid kit
• A warning triangle
• A Tow rope
• And, always have a spade handy to dig yourself out if the snow gets too deep.

This may seem like a big list, and they may take up a lot of your boot space, but they could save your life, especially if your car became wedged in a hedge down some dark lane on a freezing night.

Organising and planning journeys

• Before any long journey, check the weather conditions for your route. When driving to your destination listen to the local radio regularly, weather conditions can change very quickly.

• During your journey you may receive a flash warning to not drive any further. This is good advice and is best to adhere to it by finding a nearby motel.

• Always inform family, friends and relatives about your journey.

• Begin your winter driving journey with a full tank of fuel and avoid driving near empty. Topping up fuel to at least 3/4 full regularly during your journey is good practice.

• Your fully charged mobile should have up to date telephone numbers and if you are not part of the RAC or AA then consider joining them, or at the very least have their telephone number handy. You will need to be aware that to join a breakdown service on the spot can cost considerably more than paying the annual subscription. Here's an example with the AA the cost of annual membership could be around £35 however, the cost to join during an 'on the spot' call out could cost around £150.

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