As the clocks go back for one hour at the end of October and Britain enjoys that extra stolen hour snugged in bed, it heralds the arrival of winter and all that entails.

Darker nights, icy roads and more hazardous conditions are just some of the factors that motorists have to consider during the winter months in the UK.

To stay safe on the roads and to prevent breaking down in cold temperatures, leaving you shivering while you wait for assistance, your car needs to be in tip top condition. Here’s a few of the most essential winter checks which you should carry out each year when the clocks go back.

 

Lights

It can be surprisingly easy to drive around with one or more of your lights not working without realising but as the nights get darker, it can have a very profound effect on not just your vision but on other road users too.

A cyclist might not spot that you are slowing down, reversing or turning if your lights aren’t working as they should and that could result in a very serious accident.

The need to keep your lights in optimum condition is increased by the debatable decision by many Council’s to switch off their street lamps, or reduce the hours they operate.

Nearly three quarters of councils in England and Wales have, or are planning to, reduce or dim their street lights. This has led to concerns over safety so much so, that in two areas, the decision was reversed after the police expressed their fears.

Councils have rubbished claims that reduced lighting on the streets will impact motorists but industry figures show that 40% of accidents take place between 7pm and 8am. When you consider that only a quarter of motorists are on the road between these hours, the conclusion is worrying, particularly when you also consider that the highest proportion of accidents occurs in the weeks following the clocks being rolled back.

 

Check your field of vision

If you’re in a rush, it’s easy to swing out of your drive and onto the road before realising that you don’t have a clear field of vision all around your car.

Taking an extra few minutes to clear your windows might be a hassle, but it will make sure that you arrive at your destination in one piece.

Front, back and side windows should all be cleared before you drive, along with your mirrors too. If it’s been snowing, don’t forget to clear your roof as well so you aren’t suddenly blinded by an avalanche sliding down onto your window as you drive.

 

Wiper blades

An area often neglected, many drivers don’t stop to consider the condition of their wipes blades until it’s too late.

When it’s raining really hard, or its icy, your wiper blades need to be able to quickly and efficiently clear your field of vision. Damaged or degraded blades will simply smear water and frost across your window, making it even harder to see than before.

A potentially fatal area to neglect, modern wiper blades are easy to fit, simply popping into position.

 

Tyres

Everyone knows the importance of having good tyres so make a point of taking a good look at them when the clocks go back.

Take the time to examine the treads all the way round on all four wheels and if there are patches which are worn or thin, don’t risk your safety, get them replaced.

Your tyres are what keep you safe when road conditions are treacherous; having a deep tread could help your car stay on the road when it’s snowy, icy or even just very wet.

 

Coolant

Engines don’t like cold weather so need protection against the icy temperatures which will inevitably arrive.

Make sure you have antifreeze in your car and that it’s sufficiently topped up to cope with the winter months ahead.

 

Conclusion

It doesn’t take long to carry out a few essential checks to make sure you and your car stays safe in the winter months or motoring. Why not use that extra hour to take a look at your vehicle and make sure everything is as it should be before you hit the roads during the darker evenings and nights.