Prepare Your Car for the Big Freeze

As seen in recent years, the UK’s cold, rainy and increasingly snowy winters, can play havoc with road surfaces, so it is important for drivers to do all they can to increase the safety of their vehicle before driving in these conditions. Alongside general checks on the vehicle such as front and rear lights, wiper blades and levels of oil, water and screenwash, drivers should consider purchasing a set of winter tyres to prolong the life of their standard tyres and improve the safety of their car in cold or slippery conditions.

Winter tyres are designed to remain flexible in extremely cold conditions, whereas standard tyres would be damaged, and their special tread patterns reduce the risk of aquaplaning when driving on wet or slushy roads, improving performance even on snow and ice.

Lee Taylor, of Allianz Global Assistance in the UK, comments: “We understand that motorists can be put off by the cost of winter tyres, but it’s important to remember that they are a long-term investment. Also, our increasingly harsh winters have increased demand for winter tyres, which of course creates greater competition and reduces the price, so they are more affordable than ever.

“Most drivers will have to replace the full set of tyres on their vehicle at some point during ownership. Swapping to winter tyres for a few months each year not only means they last many years, but it saves wear and tear on a car’s standard tyres and helps them to last much longer too. This means the standard tyres need replacing less frequently, making the cost of the winter tyres much less prohibitive over the ownership cycle.

“If and when the promised snow does hit, we would expect to see what have become all-too-familiar scenes in the media of vehicles stuck in gridlocked traffic or having collided with other vehicles or skidded off slippery roads and into snowdrifts. Too many UK drivers and their cars are simply not prepared to cope with these extreme conditions as they have not been the norm up until very recently. Our European neighbours, who expect extreme winters every year, take time to prepare their cars fully which means they are not only safer but also more able to continue as normal even when ice and snow does hit. Unfortunately UK drivers often seem to put perceived additional cost above safety in this respect, but as our winters become harsher and the roads more dangerous, we must all do what we can to protect ourselves and other road users. Fitting winter tyres can help motorists stay on the road and stay safe.”

Allianz Global Assistance Winter Driving Tips

• Keep some winter essentials in the car in case you get stuck in cold weather. For example: a torch, windscreen ice-scraper, a shovel, a blanket, boots, some warm clothes, bottled water and snacks.
• If your battery is accessible, check the connections on the top of the battery are clean, damage free, secure and free of corrosion. Make sure your battery is fully charged and in good condition
• Ensure your tyres are in good condition for maximum grip on the road in slippery conditions; invest in winter tyres if you’ve not done so already.
• Check that all of your lights, including fog lights, are working and clean. Replace any blown light bulbs – don’t forget to check internal lights.
• Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition, and replace them if they’re not clearing the windscreen effectively.
• Check the oil, water and screenwash levels - top up where necessary and don’t forget to add an appropriate anti-freeze to the water and screenwash if required.
• Before leaving, check the local weather forecast and be sensible about whether or not your journey is essential – do not drive in extreme conditions unless absolutely necessary.
• When driving in bad conditions, remember that braking distances are much greater, and visibility potentially much lower than usual. Drive cautiously, maintaining a constant speed wherever possible and applying brakes gently to avoid skidding.
• If your car gets stuck in snow, use a high gear and gently rock the car back and forth to ease out of the snow – revving the engine in a low gear will just dig the wheels deeper into the snow.
• If necessary, have your vehicle checked or serviced by a professiona