Driving in winter is treacherous and challenging, and it can also impact your wallet. Here is our guide to staying safe and avoiding unnecessary costs.
It’s not nice having a car covered in winter grime and grit, but did you know it could cost you money? And no, we don’t simply mean the cleaning bill.
Apart from the safety issues, the police can pull you over and issue a penalty notice of up to £1,000 if your lights, indicators or reflectors are too dirty, or indeed snow-covered.
The Highway Code states: ‘lights, indicators, reflectors, and number plates MUST be kept clean and clear’.
“Driving with dirty lights is a serious safety issue which can be corrected in a matter of seconds,” adds IAM RoadSmart spokesman Rodney Kumar.
“Why take the chance? Check, clear and clean before you go.”
Needless to say, you need to check regularly that all of your lights are fully functioning, including high- and low-beam, daytime running lights, foglights, indicators and reversing lights. During the thick of winter, if you’re a nine-to-five worker, it’s impossible you’ll use your car in the week without needing lights.
Iced-over windows and windscreens, while being extremely dangerous, can also land you with a fine. All too many drivers forgo properly clearing away ice in the morning because they’re in a rush. Numberplates must also be legible if you want to avoid a hefty penalty.
Potholes and broken roads
Keep an eye on the roads, too. It only takes a few sharp frosts to leave tarmac broken.
If you’re lucky, a pothole will knock your wheel alignment out a little bit. At worst, it could puncture a tyre, damage a wheel or break suspension components.
A recent survey found 25 percent of drivers had suffered damage to their car as a result of a pothole or speed hump. And an unlucky eight percent of those claimed the damage cost more than £250.
Your council won’t always pick up the bill either. Of the 39 percent who complained about the damage to their local authority, more than half said they were ignored.
Needless to say, the faster you’re going, the more damage a pothole could cause. Keep your speed conservative for the best chance of avoiding trouble.
The colder months of the year also mean salty roads. When the frosts descend, the gritters won’t be too far behind, and what they drop is not good for your car.
In the short term, stone-chipped paint and chipped windscreens are an annoyance. In the longer term, the film of salty grime will start to eat away at your car’s bodywork.
Keeping your distance from vehicles in front is your best chance of avoiding damage to your car.