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Safe winter driving

While UK winters are hardly a Siberian deep freeze, lower temperatures, fog and snowfall can make driving extra challenging.

And your car can be even more affected by low temperatures than you are. Find out how the colder months affect your car and follow these tips to minimise the risk of breakdown or accident.

Low temperatures

  • Check your tyre pressure: this is never a fun job, but ensuring your tyres are properly inflated during winter is important as tyre pressure drops as temperatures do. Low pressured tyres will leave your car difficult to handle.
  • If you use antifreeze regularly, you may feel immune to bad weather. However, you should ensure that you have antifreeze mixed with water at a 50-50 ratio.
  • As temperatures drop, condensation becomes a problem, especially on your rear window. Make sure the rear defroster works before going on a long trip.

Reduced visibility

  • Check your battery. Driving in winter means less daylight. You will use the lights and heating much more - which drains the battery.
  • Other conditions affect your visibility, like snow, sleet or rain mixed with dirt stuck on the windscreen. Rather than clearing just a small area, carefully clean everywhere: driving requires good peripheral vision and being aware of every other road user is vital.
  • Cleaning your headlights can improve visibility. Dirt often forms a thick film which reduces their effectiveness. It also means that others cannot see you as clearly.
  • Inspect your windscreen wiper blades. Even when it’s not raining, the vehicles in front of you often spray back enough dirty water to make cleaning the windscreen necessary. If your wipers are old, you can replace them with new winter wipers which prevent ice from collecting on the blade.

Snow, sleet and rain

  • When your car is covered in snow, many people only clear the windscreen and side mirrors, but it’s important to clean the whole car. Snow on the roof, for example, can slide and cover your windscreen as you brake, or fly onto the windscreen of the car behind.
  • When there is sleet, snow or just heavy rain, you consume large amounts of washer fluid. During winter, keep extra fluid in the boot in case you run out, and add a small amount of antifreeze during the winter.
  • If the area where you live suffers from regular snow then consider tyre chains. Chains are a lightweight and effective tool when snow has covered the roads. However, if you don’t know how to use them properly chains can become undone and scratch or even dent your car.

A first aid kit, high-visibility vests, de-icing equipment, a torch and blanket are all essential items for your boot.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident or breakdown during winter. You’ll also be thankful that you haven’t ended up waiting for hours in a cold car for someone to rescue you.

However, accidents and breakdowns do happen and the best way to get peace of mind is by having comprehensive car insurance from a trusted provider.

How can John Lewis Insurance help?

John Lewis Insurance offers competitively-priced Car Insurance that you can trust. Emergency Taxi Cover, Misfuelling cover and with our Comprehensive cover, a free Courtesy Car for the duration of repairs should you have an accident, means you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re protected should the worst happen.

For further tips and advice, please see our quick guide (PDF).

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