It’s that time of year again. The lights are on in Dublin’s streets, the first of the Christmas parties are just around the corner and those good old Christmas songs are filling up the airwaves. If you are one of the thousands of people who will be driving home to their families this Christmas, staying safe on the road will be a priority. Here are five tips to help you have a safer journey.
1. Check your vehicle lights
The lights on your house may be in perfect working order and looking great, but when is the last time you checked the lights on your vehicle? Ensuring that all your lights are working is a very simple way to help you and other road users stay safe, not to mention it will also help you to avoid getting delayed by the police. Remember, colder weather can increase the risk of bulbs failing due to frequent and dramatic changes in temperature.
This, coupled with the very short daylight hours, meaning it is more important than ever to check your bulbs at this time of year. It is also recommended to carry spares with you in your vehicle so that if a bulb does fail you can change it before continuing your journey. Only attempt to do this of course if you are able to park your vehicle in a safe, well-lit spot away from traffic.
2. Don’t ignore dashboard lights
Staying with the theme of lights, don’t overlook another key safety point. Everybody likes to see plenty of colourful lights at Christmas, but not if they are on your dashboard. Dashboard warning lights are there for a good reason and should never be ignored. Although some are only informational, others can indicate that there is a serious safety issue that could put you and your vehicle at danger. They can also mean that your car is at risk of damage if you continue to drive.
One of the best ways to know what they mean is to familiarise yourself with the appropriate section in your vehicle documentation. If you do have warning lights and you are unsure what they mean, we recommend that you consult a qualified mechanic or your breakdown service immediately.
3. Plan ahead
It may seem obvious, but taking some time to plan your journey can really help to ensure you get there safely, especially at a time of year when the weather can become inclement very quickly. Familiarising yourself with the route will help you to avoid distractions, plan alternatives and inform others when you can be expected to reach your destination. Remember to also allow sufficient time for rest stops. Before you travel, check the weather forecast and any effect this may have on your planned journey.
4. Top up your fluids
Although staying hydrated is a key factor in staying alert when driving, we did mean your vehicle’s fluids. Given the weather conditions at this time of year, making sure you have enough oil can help protect your engine from unnecessary wear, whilst ensuring your antifreeze is still effective can prevent your engine from overheating. If your antifreeze is too old, it may not offer protection from low temperatures and in freezing conditions, this could be catastrophic to your engine.
Make sure you also have plenty of winter screen wash, which is also designed not to freeze in cold conditions. It is also recommended to have your brake fluid checked by a specialist if this has not been done in the last twelve months or more.
5. Check your tyres
Here in Ireland, we are lucky enough not to need to swap to snow tyres every winter. Nonetheless, it is extremely important to check your tyres regularly and perhaps more so at a time of year when the weather is often wet. Check that you have the correct pressure according to your vehicle’s handbook and be aware that low temperatures can make your tyre pressures drop.
Next, make sure that you have sufficient tread, as this is essential to keep your car in contact with the road surface when wet, and could prevent you from losing control or aquaplaning. Finally, make it a habit to regularly conduct a visual inspection of the inside and outside of your tyre walls as well as the tyre surface. Visible damage, bulges or uneven wear are all indicators that something may be amiss and should be checked by a trusted tyre fitter or mechanic.
For all your winter car care needs as well as the best range of tyres at some of the best prices available, pop into your local Tyreland today. Call now on 01 860 2 20 to find your nearest branch.