UK accidents occurring in 2015 when there was snow or ice on the road surface
Section 1 - Essentials
Use a pressure gauge to check your tyres. The appropriate pressures should be located on the driver's side door post. If you can't find them, check online - and remember, accurate tyre pressure is vital for ensuring maximum grip on the road surface.
Your tyre tread is especially important in winter. The legal limit is 1.6mm but it is highly recommended that tyres have 3mm of tread. Use the "treadwear" indicators as a guide – if your tyre wear is level with this marker, you should change your tyres.
Windscreen wipers should be changed once a year. You'll need new ones if they are smearing your windscreen or seem ineffective in bad weather.
Battery faults are a common cause of breakdowns and more likely to occur in winter months. You can use a voltmeter to check for problems or head to a local garage – many offer free battery checks.
Section 2 - Check your fluids
Most brake fluid reservoirs can be found at the back of the engine bay on the driver's side. If the fluid has turned dark, it needs changing. If it looks low – top it up. Remember - stopping distances are longer when the road is wet or icy.
Oil should be checked regularly. Make sure the engine has been off for at least ten minutes before removing the dipstick and wiping it on a clean, lint-free cloth. Put it back in and make sure the oil is between the minimum and maximum markers.
Check your vehicle's manual to see what sort of coolant you need. Always read the label when adding coolant - if it isn't pre-mixed you must add the correct amount of water to the (usually transparent) reservoir. If your coolant doesn't have it already included, add anti-freeze for the cold winter months.
Top up your screenwash regularly; make sure the product you use has an anti-freeze property. Salt and grit used to melt road ice can make windscreens very hard to see out of - always carry some diluted screenwash in your car ready to top up if you run out en route.
Section 3 - What to keep in your car
- Ice scraper
- Pre-diluted screenwash
- Blanket/warm coat
- First aid kit
- Orange breakdown triangle
- Basic food supplies - such as energy bars/energy drinks
- Some people even carry an emergency spade to dig themselves out of snow, if necessary