Christmas is coming, which may be a time for festive cheer but it also means less daylight, murkier road surfaces, lower temperatures and icy conditions.

All of this means that drivers can really struggle, especially if they are doing a long journey to visit family and friends during the holiday period. The last thing you want is to break down and need rescuing from the side of the road at Christmas time, especially if you have kids in the car with you.

So what should you do to prepare your car for the Christmas period this year? Calmac Tyres in Northampton have given us these safety tips.

Simple Service Check-Ups 

Your exhaust, car battery and oil level all need to be checked regularly. If you notice a rattle when driving, especially before your car has warmed up, then your exhaust might not be working properly.

Equally, frequent short journeys with the heating and lights on may be wearing your battery down so that it will eventually give up.

Have your car serviced to make sure such minor problems don’t turn into major ones. Don’t wait until a hazard light pops up on your dashboard!

Remember to check your oil level using the dipstick, too, something every driver can do for themselves.

 Remember that any car that is older than three years of age will also need an MOT. If your car is due around now, why not book a service and MOT at the same time to prepare for Christmas? 

Inspect Your Tyres 

Driving on winter roads takes its toll on your tyres. You run into more debris because you cannot see it in the dark, or if it is covered with snow or ice. Local authorities all over the country have been struggling to repair local roads and fill in hazards like potholes. Driving over them can damage car tyres easily.

Remember, too, that with lots of dew on the road in the mornings in winter that even partially worn down tyres offer less grip, so taking action sooner rather than later is advisable. 

Make sure you check your tyres regularly, especially if you are heading out on a long journey. Check the tread and check the pressure too. Many tyre supplying companies will do this for you for free if you aske them.

Many cars do not come equipped with a spare tyre any more – the kit that is supplied will fix a minor slow puncture but not any major damage, and the last thing you want to do over Christmas is spend hours on the hard shoulder waiting for a rescue.

Check Your Air Conditioning 

Your air-conditioning system might not have been in use since last August but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good thing to check it in the run-up to Christmas.

This is because your air-con and your heating system are intertwined. Most cars use the same pipes to deliver both hot and cold air. It may be that re-pressurising your system is just as beneficial in winter as it is in summer. You don’t want to feel cold, after all.

De-Icer

This last tip is from me. Make sure you can find your can of de-icer and your scraper in the mornings, or even better get a windscreen shield to protect your car overnight. When you and the kids are rushing to get out somewhere, you want to make it as easy as possible to de-ice the car quickly and increase your visibility and safety.

Somehow or other we seem to put these useful little items away somewhere when the weather gets warm, and then the first of the icy mornings can take us by surprise. If you don’t have yours in the car, and also a bit of antifreeze in your windscreen cleaning fluid, then maybe think about getting some.

 Calmac Tyres is based in Northampton and provides car servicing and tyre services

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