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How to avoid winter breakdowns

With Britain set to see further snow and icy conditions this weekend, the motoring experts at Haynes have published their top tips for looking after your car in winter. The number of reported 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 and 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.
  • 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 as they really do make a difference. Some tyre retailers will even 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 as they can very quickly get covered in mud and salt.

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 £25.00 per manual for a year, or £30.00 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.

Thanks to Haynes Publishing for this great article.

We like to add that it is worth taking out an a good level of breakdown cover and car warranty plan to alleviate motoring expense and keep you protected from breakdowns. When you buy from a Safe and Sound car dealer, they will provide you with six months of our all-mechanical and all-electrical car warranty and 24 hour breakdown cover which includes roadside assistance, roadside repairs, assistance at your home and an onward destination service, so you never need to worry about being stranded again.

Registered office: The WMS Group Ltd,
Oxford House, Oxford Road, Thame, Oxon OX9 2AH
01844 293 810