Winter Motoring Tips:

When winter comes, many aspects of the daily routine become more complicated. From the first start of the heating in the autumn to the de-icing of your car for the morning drive, life in the dark winter months is a bit slower.

Did you know that the main causes of car accidents are different even in winter? Cold weather creates new loads for you and your vehicles. That’s why companies choose to ensure that their vehicles have breakdown cover like the RAC Breakdown & Recovery Service as you never know when or if you will need it.

However, the good news is that there are ways to reduce the risk of car problems in cold climates, so you can keep your car and fleet on the road until spring. Here are some of the common winter car issues and how you can tackle them:

  1. A discharged / flat battery.

Your car is 51% more likely to experience battery problems in the winter. This can cause a lot of inconvenience: in addition to the cost of replacing the battery, you can find yourself trying to jump start your vehicle at the roadside in the winter morning, delaying your journey.

Many drivers suffer this and curse as the engine refuses to spark into life so ensure you check your battery to reduce the risk of a flat or discharged car battery.

How to prevent battery problems

There are easy ways to reduce the risk of a flat battery even in the coldest months.

Increase your driving time is the best way to ensure that your battery stays charged. The alternator in your vehicle needs time to recharge the battery after starting the engine.

Keeping the battery environment clean also prevents the accumulation of harmful waste. Reduce the frequent causes of battery discharge by limiting the use of air conditioners and air systems, and make sure the lights are off. We have all left our lights on at some point, only to return to the vehicle to find we have drained the battery.

Always carry a jump starter lead set in your vehicle, and if possible keep a spare set in the garage or office to avoid being caught short and be in a position to help others who may get caught out.

2. Tyre Puncture

Deflated tyres are a major cause of winter breakdowns. Tyres are changed 36% more often in winter than in summer. Since nobody wants to stop during your journey, check your tyre pressures and watch for signs of deflation.

Ensure your tyres are pumped with the correct air pressure for winter conditions

Taking care of your tyres is important for your safety, comfort and fuel efficiency. Check the tyre pressure regularly in winter. Avoid kerbing and uneven terrain as much as possible. Try to protect your tyres as best you can from damage and do not over inflate.


  1. Engine cut out

Your car engine is 27% more likely to cut out in cold weather. It is a daunting experience that most drivers would rather avoid. The wait for motoring breakdown / recovery services can be lengthy dependent on the conditions and number of call outs being experienced, which increases significantly in the winter months.

What to do if your car breaks down?

If your engine stops while driving, steer your vehicle to a safe position at the side of the roadway, turn on the hazard warning lights, and call for help. Ensure your mobile phone has charge and that you are safe.

You can reduce the risk of a fuel cutoff by ensuring you always make sure you have enough fuel. Regularly clean the air filter of your car (this should be done during a service) so that the engine can suck in fresh air which along with the fuel you put in your vehicle is a requirement for the engine to function efficiently.

  1. Engine refuses to start

It always happens when you have to be somewhere and it’s a cold wintery morning, so ensure you leave enough time for your journey and start your car engine early to ensure it starts. Remember that starting problems occur 18% more often in the winter.

Be aware that starting problems occur more often in winter and you need to be prepared for this and where possible reduce or eliminate the risk. Check your battery and if you are not sure take it to a service centre who are likely to offer a free check for you.

As we have seen, this problem could be caused by the battery or the generator. However, fuel systems, starters, oil and carburetors can suffer from sinking temperatures.

Regular maintenance of your vehicle should ensure that it is in good condition and able to meet the challenges of winter. Ensure your anti-freeze is topped up and at the correct level.

  1. An engine warning lamp

In winter, 4% of breakdowns are due to the engine management indicator.

What to do if the engine warning light is on?

When you see the dreaded engine light flash, slow down to see if the light goes out. If the light doesn’t go out, stop in a safe place, turn off the engine, and call your breakdown service for assistance. Otherwise, if possible, take your car to the nearest garage for a professional opinion. Do not ignore a warning lamp coming.  Get the problem looked at before it becomes a bigger and more expensive problem. Do not continue to drive with the warning light on as this is the vehicle’s way of letting you know there is a engine management problem looming. The garage or breakdown service will be able to check out what the issue is that has caused the indicator lamp to light up on the dashboard.

Author Noel Camcushan ©