21 November 2014

6 ways to prepare your car for winter

Driving in winter can be demanding, particularly if you’ll be commuting over the winter period or are planning a long car journey. Here are some ways to prepare your vehicle.

1. Do regular basic checks

It’s best-practice to keep your vehicle well maintained all the year round. Regular checks every week or so will help you spot any problems with your motor.

Try to include these basic checks:

  • Ensure the car battery is in good working order
  • Ensure the lights are working properly
  • Make sure the windscreen is clear
  • Make sure the tyres are pumped up

2. Winter tyres could be a good option

You could change to winter tyres to help steering, braking and acceleration in wintry conditions. They contain more natural rubber than other tyre types, which can help improve grip on snow and ice.

If you don’t opt for winter tyres then ensure your tyres are properly inflated to cope with winter driving. The legal minimum tread depth1 is 1.6mm but a good depth for winter is at least 3mm, according to various motoring experts.

3. Pack an emergency kit

If you’ll be travelling long distances over winter, especially at Christmas time when visiting family and friends, pack away an emergency kit in case you break down. It could contain:

  • Phone numbers for breakdown and insurance provider
  • Torch, map, first aid kit
  • Warm clothes, food, water
  • Spare, charged mobile phone
  • Phone charger
  • Spade for clearing snow
  • Blankets and sleeping bags

4. Plan journeys well

If the weather takes a turn for the worse, ask yourself whether you need to travel at all. Otherwise, plan your journey properly by:

  • Telling someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back
  • Allowing for a longer journey – the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders suggests an extra 10 minutes for each hour of travel2
  • Filling up with petrol

5. Get your car serviced

Knowing that your car doesn’t have any mechanical problems will help give you peace of mind as winter sets in.

If you’re not confident your motor will survive the winter without a breakdown, it’s worth getting it checked over by a professional. Breaking down at any time of the year isn’t much fun, but if you’re stranded in winter it can be particularly miserable.

6. Clear your car of leaves

The gruelling winter conditions can be hard on your car’s exterior. Stains caused by fallen leaves and tree sap can cause permanent damage to the bodywork of your vehicle.

Dirt and grime will also build up from wet and slushy roads so make sure you wash your car regularly and give it a polish and wax for extra protection.

Are you covered?

Does your packaged current account include breakdown cover? Nationwide FlexPlus current account has a range of benefits which include breakdown cover3, all for just £10 a month. For more about packaged bank accounts, read our useful guide.

1 You gov 12 November 2014
2 SMMT 11 October 2005

3FlexPlus UK & European Breakdown and Recovery Assistance is underwritten by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited.

Britannia and Britannia Rescue are registered trade marks and are trading styles of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited, registered in England and Wales number 3232514 is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, register number 202965. Registered address for all Liverpool Victoria companies: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. Tel: 01202 292333

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