The leaves are falling, and the temperature is dropping. Without jinxing anything, we think it’s safe to say that we are enjoying a really beautiful autumn so far, but we know the harsher winter months are only just around the corner and with that comes not only cosy fires inside and hats and scarves outside but also more unstable weather and road conditions.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, however, it does mean it’s more important than ever to be prepared when you’re planning on driving. You do not want to be caught on the side of the road on a bad night especially if it’s wet or snowy. We have prepared some simple steps that you can take to minimise the risk of a breakdown or an accident.
1. Plan your journey.
With fewer people commuting by foot or bike in the colder months, the roads can tend to be busier. Drivers will inevitably be eager to get off the dark roads and reach their destination so they can cosy up in the warmth but it’s vital to leave yourself enough time. Prepare for traffic, give yourself wiggle room and this will prevent you from feeling the need to accelerate. Know your route, have your google maps ready to go and prop it up on your phone mount. You don’t want to get lost or find yourself struggling with directions. Some prep here will do you the world of good.
2. Fill up on fuel.
We have all seen the issues across the pond with fuel shortages. We have also seen a knock-on effect over here with some stations experiencing long queues to fill up. You might be tempted to pass one more station before you stop in but it’s always better to fill her up sooner rather than later. A full fuel tank will see you through your journey and will also give you peace of mind.
3. Prepare for the weather.
Before you intend to set out on your travels, ask yourself Is my car winter ready? Check your fog lights, you might not have had to use them in a while, but fog lights are essential for poor driving conditions. A quick test before you set off will give you peace of mind. Similarly, check your wipers, it’s a rare occurrence that you don’t have to use your windscreen wipers at least once while driving in Ireland. Visually inspect them and ensure they aren’t worn or faulty, then turn them on and off to ensure they are working.
Use Met Eireann. The national weather forecast is your friend coming up to your journey. Met Eireann will give you a guideline as to what part of the day is going to see the best weather and the worst weather. Look at the forecast and plan around it. If snow or ice is predicted at nightfall, try to leave a little earlier. If heavy rain is predicted, try to avoid the timeframe where it is predicted to be at its heaviest. This will help to keep you safe on the road.
4. Check your oil.
We can not stress this enough. Never set out on a road trip without checking your car for water and oil. If you’re concerned that you do not know how to do it. Here are some tips.
When it comes to changing your oil, here are the steps you need to be mindful of.
- Heat up your car.
Warm up the engine of your car for approximately 5 or 10 minutes. When you’re satisfied your car has heated up, shut it off. This will allow oil to move freely in and out of the engine.
- Drain the oil.
Once you are sure your car is off and you are safe to continue, remove the old oil. Place a bucket under the oil drain plug and begin loosening the bolt with a spanner. Once it has been loosened effectively, remove it. Take heed of any steam that might arise from the engine. It shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to drain the oil.
- Find the oil filter.
Your oil filter is a round canister that will be screwed against your engine. It is approximately 5 inches deep.
- Change the filter.
Loosen the filter with your spanner and remove it. Proceed with replacing the filter. Ensure you smear the new filter’s rubber seal with oil before reattaching it. Use your hand to tighten it back in place.
- Refill your oil.
Use your car manual to investigate how much oil you’ll need to refill. Locate the oil cap under the bonnet and fill your oil to the required level. Then replace your oil cap. Ensure levels fall mid-range between high and low using your dipstick. When you turn on your car, watch out for your engine light – it should disappear after a minute.
- Use the right oil!
Try to remember to always use high-quality oil in your car as this could affect your engine. Read your owner’s manual to check what type of oil is correct or ask a mechanic!
5. Check your tyres.
It’s not enough to do a kick test. Inspect your tyres. If you think you have a tyre going flat, then have it changed. Buy a pressure gauge and check the tyre pressure of your tyres. You do not want to have a breakdown because of tyres. If you aren’t confident in your ability to check your tyres yourself, then go to a mechanic ahead of your journey.
Take care this winter. If you are new to driving and are looking for a quote, we have great policies available for young drivers at a great price! Reach out!