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Stay safe this winter.

If you do not prepare your car for winter motoring, the risk of an inconvenient upset is more likely to happen.

First, check your vehicle is regularly serviced by consulting your service book as it can be all too easy to overlook the correct service date. Consider visiting your local dealer for a winter service.

Make sure all exterior lights are working properly. All headlights and indicator lenses must be clean and free from any damage such as cracks or missing glass or plastic.

Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting and carefully inspect your windscreen washers, making sure they are adjusted correctly. One good tip is screen wash additive to prevent freezing.

Check the oil and water levels ensuring they are topped up correctly, paying particular attention to the anti-freeze content of the cooling system.

Inspect your battery electrolyte level and top it up with distilled water if necessary. Have a look at the battery connections, ensuring they are tight and free from corrosion.

Make sure the fan belt is at the correct tension and in good condition; remove, adjust or replace as required. Remember to remove the ignition key before checking.

Check the pressure and tread of all the tyres. The current minimum legal tread depth for cars is 1.6mm. The greater the depth, the more efficient the tyre is for safer driving in poor conditions.

Inspect the jack and wheel brace making sure you are confident about their use. If locking wheel nuts are fitted, ensure the locking key is safely stowed away in the car. It may be useful to practise changing the spare wheel.

Consider air conditioning when buying a car. It can be as useful in winter as in summer as it can help to demist quickly and reduce condensation.

In poor weather and visibility only make trips that are absolutely necessary. Also, ensure you have enough fuel for your journey.

Before setting out, use a windscreen scraper or a de-icer to remove ice from your vehicle. Do not use warm water from a kettle, as it may crack the windscreen.

Do not drive with a small hole cut through the ice on your windscreen. It is illegal to drive with poor visibility. Ensure all windows and mirrors are completely demisted and totally cleared of ice.

Where possible use major routes, which may have been gritted or salted.

Take a mobile phone if you have one and ensure the battery is fully charged.

Use headlights in heavy rain or snow and fog lights if conditions are poor. Tell someone of your departure time, route, destination and estimated time of arrival.

Take some high energy food, such as chocolate, and a flask of hot soup for longer journeys. If traveling with small babies, ensure they have some of their own food.

Wrap up warm and take a blanket, waterproof clothing and sensible footwear.

Allow more time to brake and accelerate. Leave more room between you and the driver in front and try to be patient.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 9, 2005
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