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Car Care: Check your tyres before you take to the roads this winter.
AA Motoring advice on taking to the roads in winter
Your experience of a New Zealand winter depends on where you live. In the Far North, you might have to close the windows in the evening and put on a warm jumper.
Down south you will likely have to wrap up every centimetre of your body and maybe even dig the car out of the snow some days. Wherever you are, it pays to be prepared as driving conditions can often be difficult throughout winter.
See and be seen
Windscreen wipers play an essential role and are commonly overlooked as a safety feature. The wiper blades should be in good condition and should clear the windscreen — not smear the water around. If you turn the wipers on and the glass isn’t immediately clear, it’s probably time for a change. When you check your wipers, look at the liquid level in the windscreen washer reservoir, too. With longer nights, poor visibility and the possibility of fog, you need to have your exterior lights working. It might seem obvious, but you won’t know if you have a rear light out unless you actively monitor them. It pays to give your lights a quick check before you head out in the evening — and make sure they’re clean and free from snow or any other debris.
Don’t freeze up
If you live in the colder parts of the country or are heading to the mountains for a skiing holiday, the last thing you want is your engine freezing up. Make sure you have enough anti-freeze in the coolant and it shouldn’t be an issue.
Perhaps the most important thing over winter — and summer, for that matter — is that you have roadworthy tyres. Rain, snow, ice and fog can make the roads treacherous. It’s vital that your tyres are up to the job. Check they have adequate tread depth (standard tyres must have 1.5mm over three-quarters of the tyre, around the entire circumference, while snow tyres have a 4mm requirement) and check your tyre pressures are correct. If you need new tyres, change them before the cold really bites. Battery power It’s always worth giving your battery a little TLC before the winter frost kicks in. Make sure the battery’s posts and connections are corrosion-free and the fluid levels are correct. If you need a new battery, then replace it before it is too late.
It’s a lot more comfortable in a car where the heating is working properly. Not only that, but if you live in a region that gets frost or snow, you will need to heat the front and rear windows to see. Don’t be one of those people who drive with their head sticking out of the window because the windscreen is frosted up. Not only is it unsafe but it’s a legal requirement for motorists to have a clear windscreen before driving. Keep the car warm and the windows clear, and keep an ice scraper handy in the car.
In an emergency
It is always worth being prepared. Pack an emergency kit that has some basic first aid as well as blankets, a torch, spare batteries, bottled water, matches and some non-perishable food. If you get stuck in a snowstorm or bad weather it could make the wait a lot more tolerable. Before you leave home, always make sure your cellphone is charged and you have enough fuel in the tank. Plan your journey before you leave, make sure you get plenty of rest and make sure you’re driving to the road conditions.