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Prepare for winter driving

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I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but in case you hadnt noticed, the nights are drawing in, the temperatures are dropping and winter is upon us once more. That means that driving conditions are going to be difficult, if not positively challenging at times in the months ahead and so its best to be prepared.

I always think its a good idea to get a car serviced at this time of year, and then you know that everythings been checked, topped-up and you have that peace-of-mind factor. If your cars not due for a service or you dont want the expense during the lead-up to Christmas, then at least make sure you follow these ten tips for winter driving:

1 Check that your tyres are correctly inflated and not worn. They are the only point of contact between you and the road and if there isnt enough tread pattern or they are at the wrong pressure you could be in problems on a wet and slippery road. Dont forget to check the spare as well.

2 Top up your windscreen washer dont just use water, put in a good screen wash to help clear away the grime. Being able to see clearly is even more important in winter when the sun is low in the sky and its easy to get glare from a dirty screen. And make sure you clean the whole screen, not just the part the wipers cover.

3 Check your oil, water and lights standard procedure for any time of the year.

4 Check your battery is fully charged and wont let you down when trying to start on a cold morning.

5 Clean your car or take it through a car wash. I know itll soon be dirty again but you dont want grime and salt from the gritters building up.

6 Make sure youve got things like a tow rope, spare bulbs, a shovel (in case of snow), jump leads and a pair of wellies in the boot (in case you have to abandon your car and set off on foot in the snow). Keep some warm clothing like a spare jacket there as well.

7 Make sure youve got de-icer in the car, or put a blanket over the windscreen at night to stop frost building up.

8 Before setting out on a long journey, check road conditions and weather forecast so you know what to expect. And leave plenty of time for your journey.

9 Reduce speed in poor visibility and on slippery surfaces. Try to avoid braking or accelerating suddenly. Slow down in plenty of time for corners and drive in a lower gear than normal.

10 Having the heater on can cause drowsiness so make sure the car is properly ventilated and take a break every two hours.

Safe driving!