Winter driving warning: When to change your tyres and 5 car checks for cold weather

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Nobody wants to break down, or worse have an accident, in bitterly cold winter weather. However as a car-owner, there are things you can do to better equip your vehicle against treacherous winter weather. These are five essential checks you can do to reduce the risk of becoming stranded on an icy road.

British drivers are 20 percent more likely to have a car accident in the winter, due to unpredictable weather and difficult driving conditions.

Doing extra checks on your car in the winter months can help to prevent a mishap on the roads.

Lucy Sherliker, head of customer at Zuto, said: “Many motorists dread the arrival of winter, and all the issues they may face with their vehicles.

“However, as long as you prepare your car properly now, take extra precautions in extreme weather conditions, and stock up on your anti-freeze, you’ll be able to take on the winter roads.

“However, we do advise to stay home if possible when the weather gets really bad, as many UK cars are not equipped to drive in heavy snow or ice, no matter how well you prepare.”

Here are some of the most important questions drivers have about the British winter.

Do you need winter tyres in the UK?

According to Michelin, there’s one simple rule to remember when it comes to switching to your winter tyres.

The famous tyre group said as soon as the temperature plummets below 7C, it’s time to get your winter tyres out.

By changing your tyres before the weather gets incredibly changeable, with snow and ice forecast for later this month, you’ll avoid having to do it last-minute in freezing conditions.

You can spot winter tyres by the M+S and/or 3PMSF markings on the side of the tyre.

Why do you need winter tyres?

Winter tyres are specially made for low temperatures and difficult driving conditions.

They are made with adapted rubber which stays flexible rather than getting more rigid as the temperature gets colder.

The siping on winter tyres, small slits in the tread, help your car to grip the road surface in the winter.

How often should you check your tyre pressure?

Ensuring your car’s tyres are properly inflated over the winter gives your car better traction on icy or wet roads.

Cold weather causes your tyre pressure to drop more quickly, so check your tyres at least once a fortnight.

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Here are Zuto’s five essential car checks for winter weather.

1 – Check your tyres often

Check your tyre pressure and the tread on your tyres, especially if you aren’t using winter tyres.

Although tyres only need a tread depth of 1.6mm, a 3mm depth is safer in winter: a quick and easy way to check this would be to use a 20p coin.

When inserting it into the groove of your tyre, if you see the rim of the coin, you’ll need to get your tyres checked out at your local garage.

2 – Keep your fluids topped up

As temperatures drop, both coolant and washer fluid can freeze, so you’ll need to keep them topped up with anti-freeze.

Engine coolant should be a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze.

3 – Check your battery

Winter can be hard on your battery as a drop in temperature reduces the output of a battery, so it has to work harder to keep running.

If your battery has been reluctant to start in the summer and autumn months, it’s best to get it checked out or replaced before it completely refuses to start on a cold morning.

4 – Check your windscreen

Windscreen chips often get worse in the winter months thanks to hail and ice.

Repair any chips or get the windscreen replaced before they impair visibility.

5 – Pack a ‘winter car survival kit’

If you happen to break down in the cold and dark months, you can never be too prepared.

Your survival kit should include key items such as jump leads, a battery pack, and a torch with fully charged batteries.

You may also want a blanket, a first aid kit and a supply of food with a bottle of water or flask.

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