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12 Point Vehicle Checklist for Driving in Bad Weather – Preparing Your Vehicle for Autumn and Winter

We may not have been hit by hurricanes Harvey or Irma, but it can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that summer is well and truly over. Storm Aileen, which blew through the UK this week, brought with it high winds, driving rain, flooding and an array of issues for drivers.   

Whilst we can still hold out a ray of hope for something resembling an Indian summer, it’s wise to begin to take precautions. Before we know it, autumn and winter really will be upon us and preparing for the worst of possible weathers is sound advice for drivers of any type of vehicle.

Winter Driving

Driving in the winter is very different to driving at other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness, especially after the clocks go back at the end of October, make the roads hazardous places.  As we have found in recent winters, conditions can quickly become extreme, with prolonged periods flooding, high winds and icy conditions. We haven’t had as much heavy snow in the last two years, but who knows what this winter holds.

Any single journey may take us into very different weather, road and traffic conditions, so we need to be prepared for each one, aware of the hazards and able adapt our driving style accordingly.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Winter

There are plenty of tips available to help you understand how to drive safely in hazardous conditions, and our Driver Training Programmes cover these in detail with our students. But the first thing we teach is that to drive safely, your equipment needs to be safe and prepared for all eventualities. Which means that any guide to winter driving has to start with preparing your vehicle for  all the various seasonal hazards the weather might throw at you.

Here is our 12 Point Vehicle Checklist to make sure your vehicle is prepared for driving in bad weather.

1. Clean and Check Lights

It may seem obvious, but it is amazing how dirty lights can get and how badly that can obscure visibility. It is important to check all lights on your vehicle regularly for bulb or fuse failures, and also to keep lights clean and grime free for maximum visibility, both for you and other road users.

2. Clean Number plates

Not just a good idea, but also a legal requirement. Number plates should be visible, readable and dirt free at all times. With increased spray, combining with grit and salt from roadways in winter, it’s easy for registration plates to become obscured.

3. Keep Your Battery is Fully Charged

Not only the battery, but regularly check the alternator is working correctly too. Cold weather reduces a battery’s capacity to retain charge, so a faulty battery will soon cause you problems.

4. Clean and Check Mirrors, Heaters and Demisters

Ensure that mirrors are clean and the heater is functioning correctly and blowing hot air. Steaming up occurs when warm moist air in your vehicle comes into contact with cold glass of the windows. Annoying, yes, but without adequate demisting, potentially dangerous as well.

5. Check Windscreen and Wiper Blades

Ensure that there is no damage to the windscreen, such as chips, cracks etc. Your wipers will almost certainly have a good workout this winter (and have during most of summer as well) so make sure that the wiper blades are in good working order with no splits.

6. Check Tyre Conditions

Make sure there is good tread depth on all your tyres, including the spare. Have the correct pressures easily to hand, or consigned to memory for quick checking.

7. Regular Brake Check

Thorough brake checks are vital to ensure brakes are functioning well.

8. Keep Fluids Topped Up

This is especially important for screen wash and to make sure you have the correct concentration to prevent freezing. Nothing is worse than running out of screenwash on the motorway in dirty spray, with no rain to help clean the windscreen!

9. Keep Fuel Topped Up

Delays are more likely to occur during winter months, meaning that it is advisable to ensure that your fuel tank is kept as full as possible.

10. Check Antifreeze Levels

Keep the antifreeze levels topped up, so that you are confident that the coolant system will not freeze up.

11. Keep Some Essential Equipment in Your Vehicle

Always keep an ice-scraper and a bottle of de-icer in your vehicle. It will make starting out much quicker.

12. Never Set off Before You Have Full Visibility

It is vital on cold dark mornings to be as safe as possible. Even if you are running late, always make sure all windows are clear of ice, frost and snow etc. before commencing your journey.

For further information about our extensive list of logistics training courses, call TTA’s expert training team on 0845 056 0561.

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