Winter car care tips

With winter just around the corner, now’s the ideal time to get your car ready for the icy conditions. Spending a little time and money now could save you big in the long run. Here’s our four top tips on how to prepare your car for the cold weather.

1. Check your tyres

Having good tread on your tyres can make a dramatic difference to steering and braking, especially in wet weather conditions. The legal tyre tread limit is 1.6mm but experts recommend having at least 3mm across the complete circumference of the tyre.

QUICK TIP: To check if your tyres are within the legal limit, place a 20 pence coin into the tread of your tyres. If the outer rim of the coin is obscured, then you have enough tread.

Having the correct inflation pressure in your vehicle’s tyres not only improves fuel efficiency and performance but also increases your safety when driving. As a guide, you should check your tyre pressures at least once a month, and before long journeys.

2. Let there be light

Driving throughout winter in Scotland means driving in the dark! So, it’s important to make sure your car’s lights are all in good working order. Check bulbs, give light casings a clean and buy a few spare bulbs to keep in your car in case of an emergency. Garages and car parts suppliers offer a bulb changing service, usually at the cost of a few pounds, or if you’re feeling brave you could watch an online tutorial for your make and model of car and do it yourself!

3. Keep topped up

Road-salt splash, falling leaves and frost on your windscreen mean that your wipers work overtime in winter. Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition by cleaning them of dirt and checking for tears. Use an antifreeze screen wash and keep it topped up to avoid washers freezing, and check your engine coolant level.

Make sure you always have enough fuel throughout the winter months. If conditions are bad, you may find yourself stuck in traffic or following detours.

4. Kit yourself out

Who remembers the winter of 2010? If you were one of the hundreds of drivers stuck on the snowy motorway for upwards of 7 hours, we bet you do! Keeping a winter car kit in your boot won’t guarantee that you don’t get stuck in the event of bad weather or a breakdown, but it could help you get moving or at least make your wait a little bit easier. Here’s what we’d recommend packing:

  • A mobile phone charger
  • De-icer and a scraper
  • A snow shovel
  • A torch
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks with a long shelf life
  • A hazard warning triangle
  • A first aid kit
  • A blanket, hat and gloves
  • Jump leads
  • A tow-rope

Stay safe

Pay extra attention to planning your journey in bad weather.

Traffic Scotland provides information on current Scottish traffic conditions that can help make informed decisions as to the timing, routing and travel mode choice regarding current or proposed journeys. For advice on driving in bad weather, please see Traffic Scotland’s Driving in Bad Weather guide.

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