A fully functioning and road legal vehicle is imperative during the winter months

Keeping your vehicle clean during the winter months, especially when the weather turns wet or the main road network has to be treated for snow and ice, is a pretty repetitive – and thankless – job.

Car maintenance is essential, though, especially from a safety perspective with even the smallest aspects having a negative impact on how your car performs.

Road safety and breakdown organisations GEM Motoring Assist has published some useful and simple-to-follow tips that should ensure the potential for incidents are reduced.

Wash, wipe and rub: It’s hard to believe how quickly dirt builds on a car at this time of year. Before every journey, take time to remove any excess dirt and ensure all the lights and windows are free of grime.

Top up your washer bottle: If you’re covering lots of miles, you will get through a large amount of water on a journey during the current dirty conditions. So don’t wait for the warning light – check and top up as often as necessary.

Stop scraping your blades: Don’t use your windscreen wipers to clear ice as you risk wearing out the blades and causing stress and damage to the operating system. Equally, don’t use wipers to shift dirt if the windscreen wash is empty or frozen. Stop somewhere safe and clear the windscreen properly. 

Get down under: The underside of your car is particularly vulnerable to attack from salt and dirt. Give it a regular hosing to minimise the chances of any damage, and hose off any excess mud from brake discs.

Take it easy: Reduce speed and giving yourself more time to complete your journeys. By slowing down you will reduce the risk of skidding due to sudden manoeuvres. You will also reduce the spray and muck that’s thrown up from your wheels.

Keep your distance: Don’t follow too close behind lorries and other heavy vehicles. This is not only safe and prudent but it will also reduce levels of salt, dirt and other mess that gets sprayed onto your car.

It’s also important to be seen, with faulty or non-working headlights a hazard to the vehicle’s owner and other road users on dark days and wintry nights.

Research by GEM has shown that one working headlight can cause confusion to other road users who may think there’s a motorbike approaching.

Parking and slow speed manoeuvring is also made riskier, as the absence of light means impacts with parked vehicles, walls, posts and trees are much more likely.

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