Logbook Loans Tips – Take care of your car this winter

Car care and safe driving this winter as part of Logbook Loans tips series…

Some of us may be dreaming of a white Christmas, but spare a thought for your poor car! Winter brings with it many potential problems for cars – and their drivers. It is essential to keep your car in the best condition possible at this time of year. Not only will this ensure that you and your car stay safe this winter, but it will also maintain the value and roadworthiness of your car which is important if you are considering either selling it or taking out a logbook loan.

Here are five areas to focus on this winter:

1. Essential Checks
First and foremost make sure that everything in your car is working as well as it should. We love the acronym FORCES – used by the RAC to help remember the essential checks we should all make before venturing out in the winter:

  • FUEL – make sure that you have enough before you set out. Remember that your car will use more fuel when stopping and starting in heavy traffic.
  • OIL – to keep your engine in tip top condition, remember to check your oil level and top up as needed.
  • RUBBER – check that all four tyres have 2-3mm of tread and that they are inflated to the correct pressure in order to be able to maintain good grip in wet or icy conditions. Also check your wiper blades for wear and tear: if they are not clearing the windscreen of rain effectively they will be even worse at tackling snow.
  • COOLANT – your radiator should contain approximately 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze. Check your levels and ensure you have the right mix.
  • ELECTRICS – are all of your lights working correctly? Replace any faulty bulbs or blown fuses Also check that your battery’s terminals are secure and free from corrosion. If your battery is either over five years old, or is struggling to start the car, now is the time to get it replaced.
  • SCREENWASH – make sure your windscreen washer fluid is fully topped up and also add a high concentration of good quality screenwash.

2. Prevent icing up
When the temperatures drop, don’t accept a frosted windscreen as inevitable. There are things you can do the night before to stop it happening:

  • Either use a car cover or park with your windscreen facing the rising sun to give you a head start!
  • Prevent doors from freezing shut by applying a thin layer of Vaseline to the rubber door seals.
  • Prevent locks freezing by a squirt of WD-40.
  • Raise your wipers off the windscreen to prevent them from freezing and sticking to your window.
  • Believe it or not, filling a sock with cat litter helps to prevent foggy windows inside the car by absorbing excess moisture in the air.

3. Clear for take off
If you don’t manage to do any preparation the night before and get caught out in the morning it is essential to take the time to clear your car windscreen properly before setting off. The Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle. So even if you are only going on a short journey you need to clear your windows of snow, ice or condensation. Also make sure there is no snow on any part of the car that could move and either block your view or fall into the path of another motorist.

There are no real short cuts to this: you will need to use a scraper and de-icer to do the job properly. However it will help if you also turn on the defrost option on your heater and direct it at the windscreen and the windows. The warmer air should then dry the glass and begin to heat it up which will prevent the water vapour condensing on it again. If you have air conditioning, use this to keep the atmosphere inside dry.

If the screen mists up as you are driving then the best thing to do is to open your windows and also use the defog/demist function on high heat, in conjunction with the air conditioning to dehumidify the screen.

4. Driving in snow and ice
We so rarely get heavy snow in most parts of this country that many of us are unprepared as to how to adjust our driving techniques when it does arrive! The five main things to pay attention to are:

  • reduce your speed to well below normal
  • leave plenty of stopping distance between you and the car in front – up to ten times the normal recommended gap
  • Think carefully about gears. Moving off in second gear can help reduce wheel slip, and using higher gears generally but a low gear for going downhill
  • Accelerate and brake as smoothly and slowly as possible and use low revs
  • Use dipped headlights and If visibility drops below 100m, put your fog lights on.

If you do get into a skid try not to panic; take your foot off the accelerator and steer gently into the skid – for example if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or try to slam on the brakes.

5. Be prepared!
It is a good idea to have some emergency supplies in your car. Hopefully you won’t need them, but better safe than sorry. Think about what you would need if you should have the misfortune to either get stuck in your car due to a snowdrift or major traffic jam, or to break down and have to abandon your car. Some or all of the following are essential.

For your car:

  • Ice scraper
  • Anti-freeze
  • Jump leads and tow rope
  • Reflective safety triangle
  • Snow shovel

For you:

  • Thermal blanket or sleeping bags
  • Thermos flask, bottled water and snacks
  • Phone (with in-car charger)
  • Torch (with spare batteries)
  • High visibility jacket
  • Dry clothing
  • First aid kit

All of us at Logbook Loans hope that the above advice will help you have hours of safe and happy driving this winter!

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