Two years to the day since the beginning of the “big freeze”, AA is calling on drivers to take care and look after their cars as we face into the shortest, coldest days of the year. While drivers are much more likely to be daunted by a dump of snow or thick ice, the AA points out that the number of collisions recorded by the Road Safety Authority were in fact down by 47% during December 2010 when compared to the previous two years.
“In late 2010 ice, snow and driving conditions dominated our conversations, the number of breakdowns soared and many people avoided taking unnecessary journeys. The knock on effect of this was that the road traffic collisions and fatalities were down on other years.” Says Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs, AA Ireland “While we’re unlikely to see such extreme weather this year, we’ll still undoubtedly have plenty of wet, dark evenings, icy roads and fog ahead so it really is common sense to be extra cautious and make sure your vehicle is performing as it should.”
The component most likely to cause issues for motorists this winter as in every given year is the battery says the AA. Each winter a third of call outs received by AA Patrols are battery related with January and February typically being the worst months of all when temperatures are at their lowest.
The AA also points to brakes and tyres as components that will need extra attention over the next few months.
“A common belief held by drivers is that it’s a good idea to reduce your tyre pressure to improve traction when road conditions become slick.” Says Faughnan. “But it’s really not a good idea. It might help a little in terms of tractions but it’s really not worth the other associated risks that come with it so steer clear.”
The AA also advises motorists to ensure their tyre thread depth doesn’t go beyond 3 millimeters and to keep an eye out for warning signs that there could be an issue with their braking system such as the need to apply more pressure than usual to your brake pedal, scraping, squeaking or chirping noises that come from the wheels when the brakes are applied or a car that pulls to the left or the right when braking.
Other winter specific maintenance the AA is recommending includes:
- Checking of your antifreeze (the liquid in your radiator): Anti freeze plays an important role in your car’s cooling system and prevents liquids within that system from freezing to a solid state during winter. It’s important to make sure the level is full and the mixture is close to 50/50.
- Replacing of your wiper blades: The average set of wipers blades should last about a year, so if you’ve had yours a while, now is a good time to have them replaced so you’re equipped to clear winters grime and dirt.
- Cleaning of your windscreen and making sure your washer fluid is topped up: The glow of winter’s low sun can be pretty dazzling and dangerous to drive in when your windscreen is smeared and dirty. So make sure to give your windscreen a good clean inside and out. It’s also good to use proper washer fluid rather than just water as it won’t freeze when temperatures drop.
- Checking of your lights: See and be seen, keep your indicators and headlamps clean and working.
- Preparing of a winter driving kit: Now is a good time of year to put together a winter driving kit if you don’t already have one including the likes of a deicer and scraper, small fold away shovel, demisting cloth, sand or other traction aid and so on so that you’re equipped for all winter driving conditions.