How to beat the freeze: Winter can wreak havoc on our cars, but take precautions now and you won’t get caught

Dark nights, low temperatures and Christmas commercials on TV can only mean one thing: winter is coming.

So it’s time to prepare your car. There are some simple steps. Consider reserving your car for a pre-winter service, for example.

Periodically check the antifreeze and coolant levels, especially before a long trip, to prevent the engine from freezing or overheating.

Slowly he does: navigating a snow-covered road in Derbyshire’s Peak District. As the weather turns colder, making sure your car is fully prepared is essential.

The motorcycle groups, which attended thousands of breakdowns last winter, are also full of advice…


The AA says: “Two of the factors this time of year that begin to influence highway collisions, broken headlights and poor vision through the windshield, tend to contribute to five or six highway deaths a year.” , although last year it was reduced to Three.’

Fill the windshield washer with an additive specially designed to reduce the chance of freezing in cold weather. Run your finger over the wiper blades to check for nicks and tears, as they tend to last two years tops.

And in freezing weather, make sure the wipers lift off the screen before turning them on, using de-icer or warm water to free them.

Just like windshield wiper blades, tires don’t last forever. The AA ( deals with more than one tire-related breakdown every minute. And around a third of defective tires have a tread depth below the legal limit of 1.6mm.

The AA recommends replacing a tire with a depth of 2mm or less before going on a long trip.

It will also save you a fine and points on your license. Badly worn or underinflated tires can affect vehicle handling, especially in the wet and winter months.

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Worn tires are more likely to experience a blowout and aquaplane in wet weather. They also lead to higher fuel consumption.

Although many drivers rely on the tire pressure warning light to alert them, they must be checked manually.

Six tips to prepare for the cold


The RAC urges motorists to check their fuel tank level before setting off, noting: “You’d be surprised how many people run out of fuel, and with temperatures as low as expected, you don’t want to be stranded.”

Oil levels are critical as RAC patrols discover that one in three of the vehicles they service have dangerously low levels of lubricants: “This can cause a breakdown or, in the worst case, catastrophic damage. in the engine”.

The RAC says its patrols deal with more than 400,000 battery-related failures each winter, as cold takes its toll on old batteries and moisture and ice wreak havoc on electricity when batteries have to work much harder.

To help motorists with DIY checks, the RAC ( suggests its own acronym, FORCES, which stands for: Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electricity, Screen Wash.

what to pack

If there’s a severe weather warning but you can’t avoid driving, bring your own winter auto emergency kit, says the AA.

This should include: an ice scraper; defroster; a flashlight and spare batteries; first aid kit; a fully charged mobile phone and power bank; and a spare empty fuel can.

Pack warm clothes and raincoats; sturdy footwear; a jar of hot drink; and snacks to keep up your energy levels.

Also pack a high-visibility fluorescent/reflective jacket; a warning triangle; jumper cables if you have a gasoline or diesel car; and a shovel.

In the path

Before leaving in bad weather, check the forecast and make sure you have fuel. Stay on main roads and avoid rural or mountainous areas if possible.

  • Control your speed, brake smoothly, anticipate trouble ahead, and remember that on snow and ice, stopping distances can increase up to ten times.
  • Keep windows clear of snow to ensure maximum visibility. A dirty windscreen contributing to an accident could be construed as careless driving and result in a fine of up to £100 and points on your licence.
  • Fog can be a significant hazard. So turn on your car’s fog lights, slow down, increase your distance from vehicles ahead of you. But turn off your fog lights when visibility improves or you risk a £50 fine. Halfords offers an anti-fog treatment (£6.29) for windscreens that lasts up to five days.
  • Driving in blinding sun is another winter driving hazard, so keep a pair of sunglasses in the car at all times.