With the extreme temperature lows of winter, vehicle breakdowns and car insurance claims may soar. But many cold climate-related car troubles could be avoided if you take the necessary precautions when driving in snow, sleet or heavy rain this month.
Keep your cool
If you’re hitting the slopes in the final weeks of the ski season and plan to drive in near freezing temperatures, you’ll need to check your antifreeze in your vehicle. Antifreeze is a chemical compound that is added to the water in your radiator to reduce the freezing point to a temperature below the lowest temperature that the car is likely to encounter.
In any climate, drivers should regularly check that their car oil levels are topped up to avoid engine damage. You can easily do this by inspecting the car’s dipstick under the bonnet and topping up when necessary.
See and be seen
In bad weather visibility can be reduced so it’s vital to check that your wiper blades are up to scratch and that your windscreen-wash tank is topped up. To ensure other drivers can see you in poor driving conditions replace faulty break lights, indicator lights and headlight bulbs.
With winter’s shorter days and often reduced visibility many drivers will flick on their headlights when driving during the day. Forget to switch them off when you leave the vehicle and you may return to find your car battery is drained.
Balding tyres can cause big problems on the road, particularly in extreme weather conditions. While you’re down inspecting tread, check the tyre for correct inflation pressure too – details on this can be found in your vehicle handbook. It’s easy to forget about your spare tyre, so remember to check its condition before you hit the road.
If it’s snowing there will be signs on the road to fit chains to your car’s tyres. Chains are compulsory on all vehicles in Victoria including four-wheel drives, but are only required on two-wheel drive vehicles in NSW. Have a test run fitting chains to your tyres before visiting the snow and carry a pair of gardening gloves to fit them.
To be sure
During the ski season, car insurance provider RACV says it can rescue as many as 300 motorists – and that is accounting for just one snow region near Mt Buller, Victoria. So it pays to check that you have the correct level of car insurance and roadside assistance for your vehicle before you drive in extreme temperatures this month.