Grimy and greasy

* Bad weather on the way * Don't get caught out * Our guide to winter driving...

Grimy and greasy
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What Car? Staff
22 Nov 2010 15:03

Winter weather is on the way later this week, so now is the time to get ready. We tell you how.

Even if the winter in general is mild, youll still face ice and fog, and if it turns nasty, you could be forced to battle through blizzard conditions, as we did earlier this year.

The good news is that canny motorists can take a few simple precautions to drastically improve their chances of getting through the cold months unscathed. So swot up on our top tips to make sure youre prepared for each of these winter scenarios.

Grimy and greasy
Itll be either wet and windy or foggy and frosty. The roads will be covered with an overnight layer of slippery stuff, and you wont be able to see very far.

The best way to be ready is to plan ahead, which is why right now is the time to do some basic maintenance checks. You should also be ready for journeys to take a bit longer as everyone gets to grips with the changing season.

• Make sure your tyres are at the correct pressures.

• Ensure your tyres have plenty of tread (1.6mm across three-quarters of the tyre, all the way round, is the legal minimum. Wed recommend more, though at least 3mm).

• Test your brakes. They should stop the car well and allow you to apply brake pressure progressively.

• Check your brake lights work.

• If you dont use your car often, or only for short trips, make sure the battery is always charged by taking the car for a run of at least half an hour twice a week, or connect the battery to a trickle charger.

• Top up your radiator with anti-freeze to the correct concentration for winter. Check the bottle for instructions, because amounts will vary by product.

• Check your foglights work. Remember, though, that its illegal to have them on unless visibility is seriously reduced (and you must turn them off once it improves).

• Check your oil level. If you need to add oil, then its crucial that you have the correct grade for your engine.

• Top up your screenwash, because as soon as the gritting lorries make an appearance youll be cleaning your windscreen regularly. If you use concentrated screenwash rather than the ready-mixed variety, make sure you dilute it to exactly the right proportions for the predicted temperatures. Get it too weak and it wont clean the screen effectively. If its really weak, it may even freeze, rendering it useless.

• Test your windscreen wipers and make sure they clean effectively. Often the blades just need a wipe, but if they still arent effective, replace them.

• Carry de-icer and a scraper, and always ensure you can see through all your windows before driving off.