Are You Prepared For Winter?

Winter will be here sooner than you might hope and it is important to make sure our cars are prepared. We will look at specific things to check as the days start to cool down and the weather changes, but for now we will look at some of the basic checks we can do in preparation now.

Tyres – these are one of the most important safety features on a car as they are the only point of contact between the vehicle and the road surface. Checking your tyres regularly is crucial to safe running, making sure they have enough tread, that the wear is even and that there are no signs of damage.

Remember to check the pressure of your tyres, consulting your manual or the plate that is affixed to most modern cars telling you the optimum inflation and don’t forget the spare and that all the tools are in place.

Lights –it is getting darker earlier. Lights are a necessity on a car and they must all be working. You no longer have to carry a spare set of bulbs in the car because now they are not the easiest thing to change so it is a good idea to get a professional to change them if needed.

Brakes – check your brakes regularly. If you hear any strange noises when you apply the brakes, such as a grinding, get them checked immediately. The same applies if you notice a reduction in their performance. Brakes are a crucial element of the car, so it is vital they work to their best ability.

Liquids – Your car doesn’t just need petrol or diesel to work; it also needs other fluids. Some of them should be left to the professionals, such as the braking or cooling system, but others we can check ourselves.

The oil level should be checked regularly using the dipstick. You should do this when the engine is cold and on a level surface.

You should also check the screen wash reservoir and as winter is approaching you might want to consider a change in the type of fluid; one more appropriate to the colder months.

Windows – All windows must be kept clear. The only items allowed to be displayed in the windscreen are the ITV sticker (just the one), the eco badge and a car-share label. You should check the windows for any signs of damage such as chips. Many small flaws can be repaired, but it is important to get them fixed before they become a bigger and potentially dangerous problem.

If any of your windows are tinted, remembering that you can’t tint the front windows and make sure that the tinting is not bubbled or damaged in any way.

Keeping Children Secure

According to data from across Europe, two out of every three children in cars are not secured properly. Many do not wear any seat belt or restraining system and many are strapped in incorrectly or inadequately.

Children must be in an appropriate seat

If a child is properly restrained in a vehicle, there is a 90% reduction in the risk of injury and a 75% reduction in the risk of death.

The Seat – an appropriate child seat is not determined by age. Children of the same age can differ vastly in their physical characteristics, which is why the correct seat is determined by weight and height.

Check The Label For Conformity

In the back – statistics prove that rear seats are the safest place in the event of a collision. In Spain it is mandatory for children to sit in the back. The benchmark is based on height, not age and children under 135cm are not permitted in the front seats, unless the rear is already occupied by other children, or if your vehicle doesn’t have rear seats.

Anchorage – it is vital that you read the instructions for child seats thoroughly. Lives are at stake. The seat must be anchored correctly, using all points on offer to maximise the security of the seat and therefore the occupant.

Strap in – the harness securing the child must also be secure. It must be tight enough to prevent limbs from escaping and should keep the body as firmly in contact with the seat as possible to prevent movement in the event of a collision.

Face back – for the smallest of children it is advisable to use a rear-facing seat for as long as possible. In the event of a frontal collision, a baby’s neck is not prepared to support the weight of its head pushed forward, which is why seats of groups 0 and 0+ are designed to be placed only in reverse. It is mandatory to extend this position for at least 15 months and it is possible up to 1.05mtrs high, as prescribed by the ECE R129 standard.

Short Trips – do not neglect short journeys. They are as important as long trips, as many incidents occur close to home and on routes most frequently travelled. According to the Royal Automobile Club of Spain, 37% of drivers acknowledge having taken their children on the school run without a child seat. Others let the older ones buckle themselves in, without checking if they have done it correctly.

Coats Off –children are often left with their coat on or even with their school bags on their backs. These items increase the slack between the seat belt and the body of the child and can hinder the proper functioning of the harness. 

Use the Boot – objects which are loose in a vehicle become projectiles in the event of harsh braking or a collision, as they continue to move with the momentum and they can cause serious injury. Put all loose objects, including backpacks, luggage and coats in the boot.

Lead by Example – children learn by example, so it is important that we set a high standard in safety. Children will imitate the behaviour of their elders, so make sure you buckle up too.

Safety First – We hope it will never happen but in the event of a collision, children must be removed from the damaged vehicle and placed in a place of safety. You must make sure that they are not showing any signs of injury that could be amplified by their extraction, but the safest place is away from the damaged vehicle, away from the scene entirely.