DERBYSHIRE: Motorists - protect your loved ones this winter

NDET 14-1-13 RKH 20  Dronfield Snow
NDET 14-1-13 RKH 20 Dronfield Snow

Winter has hit Britain with forecasters predicting further snow and ice into the weekend.

While there is not much motorists can do about the travel disruptions caused by bad weather they can take extra care of their vehicles. Motoring experts at Haynes have published ten top tips for looking after a car in winter.

The number of breakdowns can rise by up to 70% during wintry spells, but following these carefully crafted tips could save you money and protect you and your family from potentially hazardous conditions:

Battery failures are the commonest single cause of winter breakdowns. If the car is increasingly hard to start then it is advisable to get the battery changed rather than waiting until it is too late.

Tyre condition is important all year round, but doubly so in wet, icy or snowy conditions. Check the tyre pressures, and tread depth and condition. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm, but in practice it’s better to fit new tyres well before this limit is reached.

Being able to see out is as important as being seen. Clean all the windows, inside and out, using a cleaner specifically intended for car glass. Be careful not to damage the heated rear window - wipe along the line of the heating wires, not across them.

Use a screen wash additive with antifreeze properties (not engine antifreeze). If the liquid in the washer bottle freezes it may split the reservoir or damage the pump.

Regardless of whether the roads are foggy, icy or snowy, the key to safe driving is to drive slowly, smoothly and gently.

If conditions are really bad, consider whether your journey is necessary. If it is then make sure you tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to arrive. Also ensure you have a full tank of fuel, your mobile phone, some warm clothes and maybe something to eat and drink.

Make things easier for the battery by not switching on headlights, heater blower or heated rear window until the engine is running. Similarly, switch off lights etc before stopping the engine.

Consider fitting a set of winter tyres, they really do make a difference. Some tyre retailers will store the summer tyres for you in winter, and vice versa.

When parking overnight in freezing conditions, leave the car in gear and the handbrake off if it is safe to do so. This will prevent the handbrake freezing in the ‘on’ position.

Check the operation of all the exterior lights and clean the lenses if they’re dirty. When driving in bad conditions, stop to clean the headlights now and again - they can very quickly get covered in mud and salt.

Matthew Minter, Editorial Director at Haynes Publishing says: “Winter conditions put extra strain on car and driver alike, and just a few minutes spent on some simple checks now can save a lot of trouble later.

“Owners need to take care of their vehicle over the winter months to keep themselves and their families safe. Check the tyres, the lights and the battery, but most importantly drive safely. With black ice and foggy conditions becoming increasingly likely it is essential that drivers take proper care and pay attention to the road.”

Haynes manuals have been helping motorists perform these simple tasks and many more for over 50 years. Haynes has now launched its top 50 car and motorcycle manuals online, so you can now access service and repair information on your PC, laptop or smart phone.

The new Manuals Online include all the content from the printed manuals with the additional benefits of a glossary of terms, ‘how-to’ videos, searchable menus and quick links.

The new Haynes car Manuals Online cost just £25 per manual for a year, or £30 for a lifetime subscription and are available from www.haynes.co.uk.

Haynes car manuals cost £21.99 and are available from car accessory shops including Halfords, all good bookshops and online at www.haynes.co.uk or by phone 01963 442030.

For more information, a comprehensive stockist locator and other great tips visit www.haynes.co.uk