Drivers warned they could be fined £2,500 if they don’t prepare for winter in time

Drivers have been warned that they could face a £2,500 if they don’t prepare for winter in time.

With the colder weather sweeping in and the nights set to get darker, it’s vital that drivers prepare their motors for the changing conditions.

Our weathers aren’t known for being particularly pleasant, and it’s important that your car is equipped for whatever the weather throws at it.

To help, experts from Wessex Fleet have shared their top tips on how to get your car prepared.

The first step is getting rid of fallen leaves as they can damage your car’s paintwork, WalesOnline reports.

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 autumn leaves off it as quickly as possible.

General paintwork repairs can start from £70, and can range to more than £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 escape to, this could cause internal water damage to the car.

When leaves start to decompose they leave chemicals, including sap, and these can 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 and prevents external dirt from reducing visibility if on windows – which can lead to accidents and a fine.

The second step is checking your tyres.

While it’s important to check your tyres all year round, issues like surface water and ice on the road mean you want them to be in the best possible condition to ensure maximum traction during the winter months.

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’s 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, if you have one, is also good to go.

Thirdly, refill your fluids.

You should check your fluids throughout the year, but it is particularly important that you check over them this winter.

It’s important your screen wash is full to ensure you can keep your view of the road clear. 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”.

Repairing any chips is also a vital step and well worth investing in.

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.

Also, batteries are more likely to die during winter.

This is 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 EVs can be affected.

A few ways to avoid this include:

  • Park in a garage or enclosed area if you can, to keep heat regulated
  • Try to 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
  • Try to heat the car internally to keep at a good temperature before charging

When cold weather comes, many drivers also 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 de-icer in the cold mornings.

And if there is ice build-up overnight or while your vehicle is parked, then you will need to clean it from all windows to ensure your vision is not impaired. 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.

It’s recommended to have items such as a warning triangle and high-vis jacket in the car all year round, but there are some additional items you will want in case of a breakdown in the winter.

These include:

  • 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 breakdown in the dark, which is more likely in winter with the shorter days
  • A scraper and de-icer to use throughout the winter

Simon Naylor, director of Wiltshire-based Wessex Fleet said: “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.”