Time to check

breakdown cover

Winter breakdown

MOTORISTS withoutbreakdown cover risk hefty bills if they suffer car trouble this winter, according to road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist.

With early warnings of plunging temperatures and snow for many parts of the country, GEM is urging drivers to plan journeys, check vehicles and ensure they have breakdown cover in place.

Giving some attention now to batteries, tyres, antifreeze, wipers, lights and other vehicle essentials is the best way of ensuring reliability - not just for the cold weather predicted this week, but for the entire winter.

It's also a key step towards making journeys safer, as it removes the risks that go with being stranded in a broken-down car, says GEM.

GEM road safety adviser James Luckhurst said: "No one wants their car to break down on a chilly morning... or at any other time. At best it will bring inconvenience and delay, but since we don't choose the location of a breakdown, there can also be significant risks involved for you, your passengers and other road users.

"Prevention is always better than cure, so by attending to a few basic maintenance needs, you can greatly reduce the risk of a breakdown in the coming months.

"Additionally, a breakdown recovery policy offers you peace of mind if something does go wrong, as you won't face an unexpected bill of several hundred pounds recovery and repair."

GEM's five steps for reducing the chance of a breakdown or malfunction this winter: 1. Get the battery and charging system checked to ensure best performance. Cold weather puts a lot of strain on tired batteries, so consider replacing yours now to avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown.

If your battery seems to be turning your engine over more slowly than usual, get it checked straight away, including all connections. Similarly, if the red battery warning symbol illuminates on the dashboard, do 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. 3. Make sure all the lightson your car 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. 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.

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