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Driving home for Christmas? Experts share what checks to complete before setting off  

The AA has issued an ‘amber traffic warning’ for the 22nd and 23rd of December, telling drivers to expect lengthy jams as an estimated 16 million car journeys will take place each day.

To help those travelling over the Christmas period, the car experts at Bristol Street Motors have shared how drivers can check their motors before venturing out.

  1. Regularly check your tyres 

Your tyres need to be in tip-top condition for driving in snow, as the terrain can become a lot more challenging to navigate safely.

The legal minimum tread depth for car tyres is 1.6mm – however, it is recommended that you change your tyres long before they reach this level. So, inspect your tyres at least every two weeks, checking for cracks, bulges, blisters, and other signs of damage.

Next, make sure your tyre pressure meets the recommended guidelines in your vehicle handbook. If your tyres are over or under-inflated it can be a serious safety hazard, affecting handling, grip, and braking distance, especially on icy roads.

Failure to keep your tyres correctly inflated could result in a fine, which can be as high as £2,500 as well as three penalty points per tyre.

  1. Make sure you can see and can be seen 

The winter months bring darker conditions that result in your visibility on the road being impaired, so having fully functioning lights is vital.

If you are caught driving without working lights, you could receive a fine of £100 and three points on your licence. Check your bulbs regularly, testing all brake lights, headlights, fog lights, and indicators to ensure you can be seen in times of heavy snowfall.

  1. Completely clear your windscreen before any journey 

While it can be a pain to wait for your windscreen to defrost when you’re running late in the morning, avoid the temptation to set off with any ice still on display.

If you are caught driving with snow, ice, or frost on your windscreen, or with your windscreen steamed up, you could be deemed as ‘using a vehicle in a dangerous condition’, which carries a £2,500 fine and three penalty points.

Clear any frost from your windscreen using de-icer and a scraper before you hit the roads. If your windscreen mists up while you are driving, turn on the heating, slowly increase the temperature, and then switch to air con mode – this will remove any excess moisture in the air. Your windows should soon begin to de-mist and give you a clearer view ahead.

  1. Top up your fluid levels 

Don’t forget to check on the internal workings of your car ahead of a long journey too.

Anti-freeze, engine coolant, screen wash, engine oil and power steering fluid all need checking and topping up if levels are low. When the weather gets worse, you want to be sure that your car can run as smoothly as possible.

If the roads are set to be particularly busy, it is also good practice to ensure that you have at least a quarter of a tank of fuel, in case of any delays or heavy traffic.

  1. Store some supplies 

Finally, you need to remember that preparation is key.

We recommend that you always keep a winter kit in your car, which includes the likes of de-icer, a scraper, a torch, a foldable shovel, warm clothes, a blanket, water, and some non-perishable food items.

These items will be invaluable to keep you warm and comfortable if you get delayed or break down in cold or snowy conditions.

So, there you have it, five important car checks to make before venturing out in the snow. check out their winter maintenance checklist for everything you need to know about looking after your vehicle in the colder months.

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