Get ready for

driving this winter

Topping up anti-freeze

ROAD safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is offering basic tips for drivers to ensure trouble-free journeys this winter.

Giving some attention now to batteries, tyres, anti-freeze, wipers, lights and other vehicle essentials is the best way of ensuring reliability in the months to come, says GEM.

GEM chief executive Neil Worth said: "Winter weather tends to catch us by surprise, with extra pressure on our breakdown recovery network to deal with flat batteries, starter motor malfunctions and tyre problems.

"The last thing anyone needs is to break down on a chilly morning. Prevention is always better than cure, so by paying some attention to a few winter maintenance needs, you will greatly reduce the risk of a breakdown in the coming months."

Here are GEM's five simple steps for reducing the chance of a breakdown or malfunction this winter:

1. Get the battery and charging system checked to ensure best performance. A number of winter calls to GEM's breakdown control centre relate to flat batteries. Cold weather puts a lot of strain on tired batteries, so consider changing it now to avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown. If your battery seems to be turning over more slowly than usual, get it checked straight away. Similarly, if the red battery warning symbol illuminates on the dashboard, get the battery checked.

2. Ensure your car's cooling system has the correct levels of anti-freeze, which is vital to prevent the water in your engine's cooling system from freezing. GEM recommends you consult your local dealer or a qualified mechanic to ensure this is done correctly.

3. Make sure all the lightson your car, inside and out, are working properly. Clean them regularly to ensure they are free of dirt, so that you can see, and others can see you.

4. Check tyre tread depth and pressure weekly through the winter. Good tyres will ensure the safety systems on your car are as effective as possible. GEM recommends a minimum tread depth of 3mm - the legal minimum is 1.6mm - as this will disperse much more water from the road and will minimise your risk of skidding and losing control.

5. Check your windscreen wipers, front and rear. Make sure they are working properly and top up your screenwash regularly using cold weather washer fluid. Do not use the windscreen wipers to clear ice, as this will very quickly lead to damage.

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