Maintenance
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As we get into the winter months, it is quite common for severe down pours and the subsequent ice conditions to wreak havoc with motorists; creating incredibly dangerous driving conditions and placing increasing strain on our vehicles.

We therefore list vital steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of accidents and avoid inconvenient breakdowns during the cold and wet winter months.

Windscreen vision
The biggest concern of course is ensuring the safety of yourself and your passengers during the winter, with driving conditions often testing even the best drivers.

Having good vision is obviously of vital importance if you are to avoid becoming involved in accidents. This is something which many of us neglect as we rush to work in the mornings. Always make sure that you are equipped with de-icer and a good quality scrapper in order to make the job both easier and less time consuming. Also keep an old cloth with you inside the car that you can use to get rid of condensation.

It may seem tempting to use your windscreen wipers to disperse ice, but this is a bad idea as it will only damage them. It is defiantly worth spending a bit more on your wipers in order to ensure that you have good quality ones, as cheaper brands could damage your windscreen and will often prove less effective at dispersing water.

Also ensure that your vehicle is well stocked up with a concentrated screen-wash which is capable of coping with the winter conditions. A dilution ratio of 50% antifreeze and 50% water is the optimum in order to avoid frozen fluid.

Tyres
Good quality tyres are absolutely essential when it comes to dealing with wet or slippery conditions. It is recommended that all tyres have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm in order to avoid aquaplaning.

You should also check your tyre pressures weekly in order to ensure optimum tyre performance. You can find the recommended manufacturer tyre pressures in your car handbook or online.

Brakes
If you have just driven through a deep puddle, it is probable that your brakes will be affected. It is therefore best to test them when it is safe to do so by gently applying pressure to the brake pedal. This will help to dry them out and bring them back to normal performance levels.

Breakdowns
More breakdowns are recorded in the winter months than at any other time of year. This is due to the wet and cold conditions putting maximum strain on vehicles.

The AA reported attending to over half a million breakdowns in a one month period spanning 18th December to the 18th January last year. Without the breakdown cover packages, these 544,000 motorists would have been left helpless at the side of the road and facing a substantial unforeseen fee to tow their vehicles to a local garage; something that nobody wants during the Christmas period.

You can protect yourself against such issues by purchasing a breakdown cover policy which usually cost between £30 and £60 depending on the level of cover you are seeking. In order to make sure that you are getting the best deal available, compare breakdown cover quotes on comparison websites such as MoneySupermarket.com.

Drive carefully
The one thing which can make the biggest difference when it comes to avoiding breakdowns and accidents is you. Only you can keep on top of your car by following the before mentioned guidelines; and only you can control whether or not you drive carefully and sensibly.

All too often people donít consider the damage that deep water levels can cause to their vehicles; driving through them happily without giving a second thought about the damage it could be causing and the loss of control they could experience.

As was mentioned in our tyre tips, you should ensure a tyre tread depth of at least 1.6mm. This gap in the rubber acts like a tunnel for the water, as it is used to push it through so that you donít float on top and lose control of your vehicle. Once the 1.6mm tread depth is filled with water, the advantages of it will be negated and you will be susceptible to aquaplaning anyway. You should therefore avoid driving through deep puddles where possible.

If you have no option, make sure that you drive through it as slowly as possible and keep your engine revs high throughout while in a low gear to avoid damaging the catalytic converter in the exhaust.








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