Vehicle safety and maintenance tips this winter

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With the nights drawing in and the thermometers dropping below zero, we’ve hit that time of year again when we need to take a bit of extra care around our vehicles and on the roads. It’s vital to stay on top of things and be prepared for any situation in this weather in particular.

While January and February are typically the harshest months, we’ve seen plummeting temperatures and frosty mornings since the start of December. It shouldn’t be underestimated how easy it is to forget what driving conditions are like during the winter, or how the cold can affect your vehicle’s performance.

Whether you’re a driver of a single vehicle or the operator of a whole fleet, there are several handy ways to make sure you don’t get caught out in the cold.

Vehicle checks

Left out in sub-zero temperatures overnight, vehicles are prone to frosting over. The larger it is, the longer it can take to warm up of a morning. This is where it’s important to make sure defrosting and demisting systems are functioning properly, as well as ensuring that there’s no build-up of snow inside your exhaust pipes.

Make sure the windscreen wipers and screen wash nozzles are defrosted before setting off, so there are no blockages to the fluid supply. This should also be kept topped up regularly as it’s commonly used more in the colder months than at any other time of the year.

Safety on the road

Along with de-icers and ice scrapers, you’ll want to make sure you’re stocked up on emergency items in case you run into trouble. Breakdowns are more common in the winter so it’s best to check your tyres, battery, lights and other electrics before setting off, but always make sure to travel with jump leads, high-visibility clothing and extra provisions to stay warm in case you need recovery assistance.

You should always plan your route ahead if you’re going on a long-haul journey, as detours may be in place where adverse weather is affecting conditions. However, you may want to pack a small shovel and a bag of sand in case you should end up getting caught in the snow. Travelling in the daytime is also a good idea, which requires careful planning as there are only around 8 hours of sunlight a day at this time of year.

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