10 Essential Checks For Driving In The Winter

When it comes to ensuring your van is safe for use over winter, there are various precautions you should be taking.

In this blog post, we will go through 10 essential vehicle checks van drivers should carry out to keep their vehicle safe and ready for driving in the winter.

Check the antifreeze levels

Antifreeze is important because it is used to cool your vehicle's engine, as well as protect it from freezing in cold weather. It also provides heat inside the vehicle's cabin.  The engine cooling system should be filled with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and distilled water to prevent freezing and boiling over. Keep the cooling system operating at peak performance by following the manufacturer's recommendations for changing the antifreeze. Cooling system failure can cause your engine to breakdown, not only costing thousands of pounds to repair, but it can leave you stranded at the worst possible time.

Add de-icer to your windscreen solution

During the winter months, your windscreen will rely heavily on your wipers to keep it clear. Ensure there is enough de-icer within your windscreen solution so if you need to clean the glass, the solution will not freeze on your windscreen.

Always carry an ice scraper

Along with antifreeze, an ice scraper is an essential piece of kit to carry in your vehicle in the event of an iced-over windscreen. Attempting to drive with a windscreen covered in ice is not only incredibly dangerous, the Highway Code stipulates that you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

Check the air pressure and tread in tyres

Having the correct pressure and tread in your tyres is an important factor in your vehicle's safety and functionality year-round, but particularly so in those winter months when the ground gets more unpredictable and potentially slippery and dangerous. For more rural areas that are likely to suffer from heavy snow, winter tyres are a serious possibility to consider as well for maximum traction and stability on slippery, difficult ground.

Carry an emergency kit

In the instance of getting stuck in snowy or icy conditions, it is wise to have an emergency kit stored inside your car which can aid in the event of any difficulties. The kit should include high-protein food and drink supplies, a woollen blanket, high visibility clothing, a torch, a shovel, jump cables, a first aid kit, a fuel container and tow ropes.

Enough petrol in your tank

There is nothing worse than being stranded with not enough petrol to get you to your destination. This is the case even more so in treacherous conditions of snow, high winds and ice, so always ensure your tank is comfortably full before setting off on any journey.

Check your battery

Cold weather can be very hard on batteries and can affect their functionality, so it important to make sure that the battery and charging system in your vehicle is checked for optimum performance.

Check your brakes

The most important safety item in vehicles are the brakes. They need to work perfectly year-round, especially during the colder winter months when there is ice on the ground, so be sure to have the brakes checked.

Check your lights

During the winter you will be using your lights more as you will be driving in darker conditions more often. It is important to check you are all working and replace any that aren't.

It is also the law that all lights and number plates are clearly visible. In the murky grey light that often comes with driving in wintery conditions, it's advisable to drive with your sidelights or dipped headlights on so as other drivers can see you. Without this, they might miss you as they pull out of a side road, which can lead to accidents.

Be clear on the cover your insurance provides

It is a legal requirement that vehicles and drivers need the relevant insurance to drive on the roads. However, be sure to double check your cover to see whether comprehensive breakdown insurance is included within your plan, as in the colder winter months, the likelihood of a breakdown or running into difficulties with your vehicle is higher. It is also important to note that if your insurance company finds that you were at fault through neglecting to properly prepare your vehicle for the winter months, they could potentially withhold a pay-out.