As snow continues to fall onto much of the South and central North Islands, it’s a timely reminder to ensure our cars are in ship shape for getting us safely to our destinations – and to drive to the conditions throughout.
Heavy rain, wind, fog, snow and ice all contribute to accidents on the road, so it’s necessary to be extra careful when driving, especially if you’re heading off to the alpine regions.
To help reduce the risk of your tyres losing traction on the road, check that your tread is at least 1.5mm deep around the entire circumference of the tyre and that you have correct and equal tyre pressure in all your tyres (equally pressured tyres can also help efficient fuel consumption). The tyre pressure is often written on the tyre or in your car’s manual, or you can ask your local service station for assistance. Many service stations offer free air to inflate your tyres.
Make sure you have a spare tyre and jack
A flat tyre is extremely inconvenient, especially in wet or cold weather! Make sure you know how to access your spare tyre and that you have a car jack you know how to use. Please remember to check the tread and pressure of your spare tyre to avoid any further nasty surprises.
To help ensure good visibility through your front and rear windscreens, replace any worn wipers and fill up the wiper fluid bottle. Adding windscreen cleaner to the fluid bottle can also help to keep your windscreen crystal clear. As an extra precaution, keeping a small bottle of water in your boot will ensure you have a handy top-up for the wiper fluid bottle if you run out. Remember – never use hot water to clear ice from windows as the rapid temperature change can cause them to crack or shatter.
Clear the windows of condensation
Condensation on the windows can impair visibility, so use an absorbent cloth to clean condensation off all windows. This is particularly important if you are reversing out of driveways or car parks, near children, or if the sun is causing glare on the glass. A good microfiber cloth not only absorbs the water but also helps clean the windows at the same time.
To assist with getting started again if your battery goes flat, keep a set of jumper cables in the boot. Please note: using jumper cables on newer vehicles can cause damage to the electronics. Before using jumper cables, make sure you refer to your car manufacturer’s instructions on appropriate use, or any restrictions of use. If you’re not familiar with using jumper cables, ask your local service station or the place you purchased them to show you how to apply and remove them in the correct order.
Running out of petrol is always inconvenient but it’s even worse in wet or cold weather. As a precaution, during the winter months fill your tank when it reaches the quarter level mark rather than leaving it until empty.
To help ensure your radiator is well prepared for winter driving, check the water level is topped up and contains the correct mix of water and antifreeze. There are many antifreeze options available so refer to your car’s manufacturer for guidelines about which product to use. Remember to store antifreeze safely away from children and animals and dispose of old antifreeze at an appropriate recycling site to minimise harmful effects on the environment.
Wintery conditions can cause traffic delays, and severe conditions may mean your vehicle is stopped for an extended period of time. To help ensure you can stay warm and comfortable if you are stopped, keep a supply kit in the boot that includes a torch and batteries, spare gloves and hat, waterproof jacket, muesli bars, water, a blanket, first aid kit and pocket knife.
Remember to book your car in for a pre-winter service if you haven’t had one recently. A regular service will help ensure the engine runs smoothly and any potential problems or worn components can be replaced before they cause greater damage. While a WOF will check the roadworthiness of the car, it may not reveal wear on parts such as the engine or clutch, so these still need to be checked in a service.
To keep yourself and loved ones safe this winter, plan your road trips and make sure you’re prepared for bad weather and the possible consequences. You can find a list of key things to remember when driving through the winter months in the AMI Helpful Hub on Neighbourly.