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Prepare your car for inclement weather

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As temperatures start to drop, it is best to prepare your vehicle for cold and wet weather. Winter tyres are a great start, but you also need to check your windscreen wipers and coolant.

Driving in the autumn and winter is not always enjoyable: darkness and inclement weather require more concentration behind the wheel. Your car will also have to endure greater hardships. That’s why you should take precautions. Using winter tyres can already make a big difference. Your car is less likely to slip on wet or snowy roads thanks to a tread depth of ten instead of eight millimetres. In addition, the car’s consumption is much lower at cold temperatures when using winter tyres. As from 1 October, you can make an appointment in tyre centres and maintenance centres all over Flanders to have your tyres changed.

Rain and hail

Drivers have to deal with a longer braking distance, less visibility, and (potential) aquaplaning in rainy weather. Fog or strong gusts of wind can make driving even more difficult. If you can’t avoid a trip in rainy weather, always drive defensively: keep enough distance between you and other vehicles and avoid braking suddenly. Also turn on the dipped headlights to make yourself more visible to others. Good windscreen wipers are crucial to driving safely through a rain shower. You should replace them every year, preferably after the winter.

A big hailstorm can cause a lot of damage to your car. If stormy weather is predicted, try to park the car indoors or at least provide a cover, for example under a carport or in an underground car park. If this is not the case, tie down some blankets or get a special hail cover to provide protection. Never continue driving during a hailstorm; this is not only dangerous because of the slippery conditions and poor visibility, but it also significantly increases the impact of the hailstones.

(No) chance of frost

The most common problems in freezing temperatures are hard starting engines, defective batteries, and frozen locks. Coolant protects the motor from freezing. So make sure the level hasn’t dropped below the minimum. You should also check the level of the windscreen wiper fluid because you use it more often in the winter. If you drive a slightly older car, you can also have the battery checked; a worn-out battery can cause problems when starting up the car.

Always keep an ice scraper and a can of windscreen defroster in your car in freezing weather. You’re risking a fine if you drive with windows or lights that are frosted over. Ice screens or a car cover will keep your windscreen and rear window free of ice. You can defrost a frozen lock with a good defroster spray or a bag of hot water. Always take your mobile phone, a winter coat, and some food and drinks with you. This way, if you’re still taken by surprise in freezing weather, you can calmly wait for roadside assistance. Finally, don’t forget to wash your car regularly; road salt pollutes the windows and damages the tyres, the bodywork, and the chassis.

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