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How to avoid breaking down

10 tips for staying off the hard shoulder as temperatures plummet

When temperatures tumble, it’s your vehicle’s battery that often takes the biggest hit. In fact, they’re the most common cause of breakdowns in the winter months.

But there are some other casualties of the cold weather you should be on the lookout for. Here are our top 10 tips on how to avoid winter breakdowns.

  1. Get your antifreeze checked regularly. Frozen water in your radiator can cause real problems for your engine.
  2. Use a screenwash additive all year round (undiluted in winter) to stop your washer jets from freezing up. If you keep running the pump without any fluid coming out, you could blow a fuse that controls something more important.
  3. Make sure the windscreen wipers aren't stuck to the glass before setting off. And don’t have them set to ‘automatic’ in cold weather in case they're stuck and try to start up when you turn on the ignition. You could blow a fuse, causing other problems.
  4. Clear snow from your vehicle as soon as you can. Leaving it for a few days will make it a lot more difficult to shift.
  5. If you get frozen door locks, a squirt of a water-dispersant like WD-40 will help. And a light smear of Vaseline or silicone polish on the door seals will stop them sticking too.
  6. Don’t leave wet clothes in your car overnight. The water in the air can freeze inside the vehicle, giving you a frozen ignition lock.
  7. Don’t open your windows as soon as you set off. They may be frozen in the frames and could become detached from the mechanism. Wait until the car's warmed up so any ice has had time to melt.
  8. It's good to clean your vehicle regularly in winter, to remove corrosive road salt. But don’t blast water inside the brake drums or cables. If the temperature drops you could end up with frozen rear drum brakes and handbrake cables, and you won’t be able to get moving.
  9. If you’re parked on an icy road and have an automatic parking brake, there’s a chance it won't release. With your foot firmly on the foot brake, release the electronic parking brake and ease your foot off the pedal, driving off slowly.
  10. If you hear a ‘screaming’ noise when you’re starting the vehicle, accompanied by smoke and a burning smell, stop immediately. Water from the windscreen could have got into the alternator and frozen the rotor.

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If you do get stuck for any reason, call us for help on 0800 88 77 66.

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