Almost ten million motorists are risking breakdowns in freezing conditions by failing to prepare for the hazards of winter driving.
With gales, frost and even snow predicted to hit Britain by the end of this month, a worrying 32% of car owners have neglected to make the simplest check on the level of anti-freeze in the engine or top up the windscreen wash, according to a new survey for Halfords*.
Over 60% fail to inspect tyres, one in 12 (8%) don’t examine their windscreen wipers or their vehicle lights and 18% don’t know what condition their battery is in.
While the figures are stark, the position is actually an improvement on last year. Following three harsh winters, more drivers are making preparations for a cold snap. Four in ten (42%) claim they are better organised than last year, when the lowest temperatures for 15 years caused massive travel disruption.
Some 5% of car owners say they have already bought winter tyres while thousands have taken advantage of garages offering “winter checks”.
Car, leisure and cycling retailer Halfords said it had ordered in extra supplies of winter motoring products including snow chains, snow socks, snow shovels, de-icer, ice scrapers and screen-wash effective in temperatures down to minus 20C.
Mark Dolphin, Halfords Winter Motoring Expert said: “There’s always a rush for winter products when the cold weather comes. Unfortunately many leave it too late. Good preparation can help avoid breakdowns, accidents and save money.
“Attitudes towards safe winter motoring are changing. We even sold a surprising number of ice scrapers and anti-freeze during the October heatwave as people began to prepare for winter in advance.”
Halfords offers a free Five Point Car Health Check where a trained fitter will check your lights, blades, screenwash, oil and battery condition. Halfords Autocentres offers a more comprehensive 12-point Winter Inspection, which addresses the parts most at risk including tyres, alternator, starter motor and antifreeze.
In a report into the chaos caused by last winter’s big freeze the House of Commons Transport Committee put the cost of the transport disruption which left millions stranded at £280m a day, while the cost to the country’s economy was put at £6 billion. Millions of workers also found themselves losing pay as a result of not being able to get to work.
The Highways Agency has already launched a campaign to encourage drivers to prepare for winter weather.