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Winter Is Coming…

OK, it’s the stark truth (groan!) that winter isn’t just coming; it’s already here by some accounts. Unless you’re one of the people who consider winter to start properly on the shortest day of the year, aka the winter solstice coming up on June 21. No matter when you think that winter starts, there’s no doubt that it’s getting colder and the days are getting shorter (more noticeable in some states than in others) so you will need to get your car ready to cope with the conditions.

To stay safe while driving in winter, here are a few small but very important tasks you need to take care of so that you can drive as safely in winter as you do in summer (and all other times of the year)…

Update Your Wiper Blades. At this time of year, there will be more rain and there will be more condensation getting all over your windows. In some parts of the country, there could be frost on the windscreen as well. There are few things as annoying as switching on your windscreen wipers (or having them turn on automatically if you have rain-sensing tech in your vehicle) only to find that the wipers aren’t as hard and sharp as they ought to be. This is blimmin’ dangerous for your visibility, so change your wiper blades sooner rather than later.

Clean Your Windscreen Inside And Out: When the sun is higher in the sky, you don’t really notice the filmy grime on the inside of your windscreen as well as outside it. However, when the sun is at a lower angle, as it does during winter at the beginning and end of the day, especially in the more southern parts of the country, any dirt on the windscreen can cause problems with sunstrike. Although there’s absolutely nothing you can do about the angle of the sun as you drive short of moving to the Northern Territory or the top of Queensland, you can make sure that your windscreen is properly clean to reduce the visibility hazard. Dirt comes back like an embarrassing disease, so keep a soft cloth in the glovebox for emergency cleans.

Check Tread Depth: That complex pattern that forms the tread of your tyres is designed not just to provide enough traction and grip to let you turn a corner or stop without skidding. It’s also designed to channel water out through all those lines so you don’t aquaplane. A tyre with its full tread depth can shift around 30 L of water per second. If the tread isn’t quite as deep, that’s a lot more water down there between you and the road, reducing friction during stopping. Winter is certainly not the time to have worn tyres with barely legal tread. No excuses now – it’s not like you have to put on ice tyres (in fact, given that these don’t perform very well in the wet, you probably shouldn’t).

Check Your Antifreeze: You want to make sure that things are flowing freely in your radiator system during winter and not just because it stops your radiator from seizing up and being damaged, which spells death to a car with an internal combustion engine. The radiator system is what drives the interior heating system of the car. If you’ve ever ridden in an old car that didn’t have a properly working heater, you’ll know how important having good cabin temperature is in winter.

Stash A Throw In The Boot: If your car heater is working, it’s easy to forget how chilly it is outside on a nasty cold winter day. If you have stop and wait in your car for any length of time, whether you’re doing a little stargazing or whether you’re waiting for the breakdown services to arrive, running your heater for ages is an easy way to flatten the battery. Keep one of those cheap polar fleece throws in the boot as an extra layer to keep you warm in these situations. You may think that you’ll never use it but there will always be that one time when someone gets soaked through or forget a jacket, and it will come in handy.

As always, drive to the conditions and take extra care when it’s wet or icy!