Breakdowns are more common in the winter and road conditions can be really challenging, especially when snow and ice strike. Read on to see the AA’s guide to staying safe when driving during the winter…
No matter how well equipped your own car is, if a lorry jack-knifes ahead of you, you’ll be stuck along with everyone else, so if you’re driving, pack a winter emergency kit, just in case.
Batteries and electrics
Car batteries rarely last longer than five years, and there are extra demands on them in the winter, thanks to lights, heating and wipers.
- Turn off electrical loads like lights, heated rear window and wipers before trying to start the engine.
- Use the starter in short five-second bursts.
- If the engine doesn’t start quickly, wait 30 seconds between attempts.
- If you don’t use your car often, give it a regular overnight trickle charge.
Antifreeze only costs a few pounds, but a frozen and cracked engine costs hundreds to repair. You need a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water for the winter – this protects your engine down to -34C. Most modern cars use long-life antifreeze. Make sure you use the right type. Some types of antifreeze need changing after only two years. Check your service schedule.
Continuous squealing noise when you start up probably means the water pump’s frozen – it’s the fan belt slipping on the pulley. Stop the engine straight away and let it thaw out. This could take days unless you can move it into a heated garage.
If your car overheats a few miles from home, it’s likely that the radiator has frozen. Stop straight away so you don’t cause more serious damage.
For more on the AA’s seasonal driving tips, please click here.
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