With the colder weather here, taxi drivers across the UK may be needing to get their vehicle prepared for the wintery weather set to come.
Automotive experts at Wessex Fleet have shared their tips on how to get your car ready for the colder weather to avoid fines, and further car damage.
Wessex Fleet experts reveal 8 tips to get your car ready for colder weather
1. Check your tyres - To avoid a £2,500 fine
It’s important to check your tyres all year round, but in winter months with other challenges like surface water and ice on the road you want them to be in the best possible condition to ensure maximum traction.
You should regularly check your tyres to ensure they are at the correct pressure and there’s enough tread on them. The wrong tyre pressure can lead to a £2,500 fine according to the Highway Code, so it’s best to make sure they are at the right pressure according to the manufacturer guidelines.
You should also visually check all your tyres for any cracks, cuts or bulges and if you notice any you should take the vehicle into the garage for the tyre to be repaired or replaced. Make sure your spare wheel is also good to go!
2. Refill your fluids to keep your windows clear and avoid paying £1,000 in fines
Again, you should check your fluids throughout the year but it is particularly important that you check some in winter.
It’s important your screen wash is full to ensure that any mess from muddy puddles or wet weather can get off your windscreen straight away so built up residue doesn’t block your vision. If your vision is impaired while driving this could lead to accidents and a £1,000 fine, the Highway Code states that your windscreen should be 'maintained in such a condition that it does not obscure the vision of the driver while the vehicle is being driven on a road'.
3. Repair any chips and save up to £188
Any chips, scratches and cracks to your glasswork are serious no matter how small they are as they can impair the driver’s vision, make dazzle and glare from the low winter sun and headlights much worse, and they can suddenly worsen and break, injuring someone.
If there is damage of 40mm or larger anywhere on the windscreen or of 10mm in the section of the windscreen that centres on the steering wheel and is 290mm wide, then your vehicle will fail its MOT as damage of this size will impede your vision.
It is often cheaper and quicker to get a small crack or chip repaired than to wait for them to worsen and need to replace the entire windscreen. A chip can usually be repaired by injecting epoxy or acrylic adhesive into it, whereas a larger crack will need a more detailed repair or even replacement. On average a chipped windscreen can cost as low as £40, whereas to replace the whole windscreen prices can start at £188, depending on the car model.
In the winter it’s even more important to get any damage repaired quickly as water can get into the cracks, freeze and then when it melts again expands in volume and worsens the damage, meaning a more expensive replacement is needed.
4. Keep fallen leaves off your car as they can damage your paintwork and save up to £1,000
Who knew autumnal leaves can actually damage your car's paint work! If you park under a tree often or plan on leaving your car in the same position for a long period of time, it’s important to get the leaves off it as quickly as possible. General paintwork repairs can start from £70, and can range to over £1,000 depending on the repair.
The leaves that usually clog up under your windscreen can block the drainage on the bonnet when wet weather occurs. If there’s nowhere for the water to get out of, this could cause internal water damage to the car.
When leaves start to decompose they leave chemicals including sap, these can therefore seep into the paintwork causing damage to the car.
Keeping your car clean not only ensures it looks nice inside and out, but also:
Reduces the risk of external dirt causing paintwork damage
Prevents external dirt from reducing visibility if on windows - which can lead to accidents and a fine.
5. Batteries (including those in petrol cars) are more likely to die during winter
In winter weather batteries are more likely to die because they work less efficiently in cold weather.
If the car is unused for a period of time then you should regularly turn the engine on and let it run for around 30 minutes to prevent the battery from running flat.
When possible you should also drive the car as this not only helps the battery but also prevents the brakes from seizing if they are in the same position for too long.
The same applies to EV batteries, in colder weather it's widely reported that the range and charging time of EV’s can be affected.
A few ways you can help with this is:
Park in a garage or enclosed area if you can, to keep heat regulated
Try and get the car parked facing the sun, this can also keep the car a little warmer
Don’t let the charge drop too low - 20% would be the lowest you’d want to see this
Try to heat the car internally to keep at a good temperature before charging.
6. Cover the windscreen to prevent ice build up overnight
When cold weather comes, many drivers benefit from putting an insulated waterproof cover over their windscreen to prevent ice from building up on the windscreen overnight.
It’s much more convenient and quicker on a frosty morning to remove a cover than to clear the windscreen, it also reduces the risk of accidental damage caused by the tools used to do so.
If you don’t have a cover, check which way the sun comes up and park facing it. This may help defrost your car quicker, and act as a natural deicer in the cold mornings.
7. Clear your windows, roof & number plate to avoid a fine
If there is snow overnight or while your vehicle is parked, then you will need to clean it from all windows to ensure your vision is not impaired. Even if it isn’t snow you should still ensure all your windows and mirrors are clear, removing any frost, ice or even mist from them.
Rule 229 of the Highway Code states you must demist the vehicle, clear all mirrors and windows, clean your lights to ensure they are not covered in any frost or something similar and make sure your number plate is visible.
You should also clear the roof of any snow as this can fall while driving which can block your line of sight or cause an obstacle for other road users.
The experts advise clearing the car of any snow even if you aren’t planning on heading out to prevent it from hardening and becoming more difficult to remove at a later date.
8. Have a winter emergency kit in your car
Wessex Fleet experts recommend having some items such as a warning triangle and high-vis in the car all year round but there are some additional items you will want in case of a breakdown in the winter.
During the winter we advise keeping the below in your vehicle:
A warning triangle to alert drivers to the hazard ahead
A high-vis jacket or vest so you’re easily spotted
A first aid kit for any injuries
A torch for if you break down in the dark, which is more likely in winter with the shorter days
A shovel in case you need to dig yourself out of a snowdrift or embankment
A scraper and de-icer to use throughout the winter.
Simon Naylor, Director of Wessex Fleet, added: “It’s important to make sure your car is prepared for any time of year, but as we approach the colder months it’s a good idea to give your car a look over and check it's all in good shape. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, you could also take it to a local garage. Make sure your tyres are at the right pressure, to avoid a fine and loss of traction on the roads, and we recommend keeping a winter emergency kit in your car, in case any incidents occur.”