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Lazy drivers risk winter road misery

A female motorist on a snowy road looking under the bonnetMillions of motorists admit they won't bother with basic car checks this winter despite the safety risks, according to new research.

This includes simple measures such as checking tyres or carrying basic items such as de-icer, according to the Green Flag breakdown service.

But as well as the safety risks, this "can’t be bothered" attitude towards basic winter car maintenance could prove a cold and costly error.

Green Flag's research shows that last year, 30 per cent of motorists skidded on icy or wet roads, 10 per cent got stuck in snow and 10 per cent were stranded by a flat battery.

Basic car checks

Car check

% won’t check unless a problem arises

% that have not checked but plan to do so

% that have already checked this

Battery

28

25

42

Car lights

16

26

53

Anti-freeze level

13

42

40

Tyre tread

11

28

57

Oil

11

31

54

Washer

8

33

55

 

The research also highlights that this winter, millions of motorists will set off on their journeys without carrying some of the most basic cold weather driving essentials.

Half of motorists polled revealed they failed to carry even a torch in their vehicle and a third admitted taking to the road without a spare tyre in the boot.

Meanwhile, 26 per cent said they will drive without de-icer, and 59 per cent will fail to carry a blanket.

Winter car essentials

Item

% of regular drivers who do not carry these items during winter months

De-icer

26

Spare tyre

32

Torch

49

Blanket

59

Jump leads

68

Warning triangle

71

Hi-vis jacket

74

Drinks

75

Shovel

75

Food

87

 

Miranda Schunke, spokeswoman for Green Flag, said: "Some of the simplest winter checks like inspecting the tread on your tyres and changing your oil can have a huge impact on the safety of your vehicle and the likelihood of a breakdown.

"The findings show that millions of drivers are ignoring these vital winter preparations and choosing not to keep basic winter driving essentials in their vehicles.

"As the evenings get darker and driving conditions deteriorate this is extremely risky

"Winter weather is extremely unpredictable and breaking down in these conditions can be costly and dangerous.

"It's easy to take these things for granted or forget to check them at all, so before the winter weather really takes its toll, we're urging drivers to follow a few simple checks to ensure their vehicles are winter-ready."

How to prepare your car for winter

Green Flag has these tips for preparing your car for winter.

  • The best place to start is under the bonnet. Ensure that the engine oil level is between the maximum and minimum marks on the dipstick. Also, make sure the engine oil is changed regularly. Your vehicle's handbook should tell you at what mileage it should be changed.  
  • Check your battery connections are secure and corrosion-free. Batteries more than three years old hold charge less effectively so check the level in the cells or have your battery professionally tested.
  • Aim for a 50-50 mix of antifreeze and water in your radiator to ensure reliability. If in doubt, ask your local garage to check it for you or purchase an antifreeze tester. 
  • Low visibility is a major cause of road accidents in winter so replace your windscreen wiper blades with winter wipers if you're a frequent driver and always replace summer washer fluid with winter fluid that won't freeze. 
  • Ensure that your tyre pressure is at an adequate level. Tyres that are properly inflated will help ensure the best possible traction, which can be compromised in wet and snowy conditions. 
  • Carry a winter car survival kit to keep warm and safe while waiting for assistance in the event of a winter breakdown.

Video: Car maintenance & simple DIY repairs

We're here to help! Watch our short video guide to simple DIY car repairs and basic car maintenance to help you keep your vehicle in tip-top condition this winter.

What do you think?

What have you done to get your motor ready for winter?

We want to hear from you! You can share your views on the message board below.

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Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick reports on all things personal finance at Confused.com. She started out on a weekly newspaper, via a national news agency and a stint in the fun but ‘not as glamorous as it appears on screen’ world of TV at the BBC researching consumer films for The One Show.

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