YOU depend on your van for your business, but with Britain in the grip of another bout of extreme cold weather, are you confident you are doing everything to ensure it won’t let you down?
During wintry spells, the number of breakdowns can increase by up to 70%, but following a few tips could save your business money and protect you from potentially hazardous conditions.
Motoring experts at Haynes, publisher of the renowned auto manuals, are offering some top tips for looking after your vehicle in winter.
- Battery failures are the most common single cause of winter breakdowns. If your van is increasingly hard to start then get the battery changed rather than waiting until it is too late.
- The condition of your tyres is important all year round, but even more so in wet, icy or snowy weather. Check your tyre pressures, tread depth and condition. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, but it’s better to fit new tyres well before this limit is reached.
- Good visibility is vital: being able to see out is as important as being seen. Clean all van windows, inside and out, using a cleaner specifically intended for auto glass. Be careful not to damage the heated rear window by wiping along the line of the heating wires, not across them.
- Keep your screen washers topped up and use a screen wash additive with antifreeze properties (not engine antifreeze). If the liquid in the washer bottle freezes it could split the reservoir or damage the pump.
- Whether or not the roads are icy, snowy or foggy, the key to safety is to drive slowly, smoothly and gently. If conditions are really bad, consider whether your journey is necessary. If it is then be sure to tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to arrive. Also ensure you have a full tank of fuel, your mobile phone, some warm clothes and even something to eat and drink.
- Make it easier for your battery by not switching on headlights, heater blower or heated rear window until the engine is running. Similarly, switch off lights and other power-sapping functions before stopping the engine.
- Consider fitting a set of winter tyres – they really do make a difference. Some tyre retailers will store the summer tyres for you in winter, and vice versa.
- In freezing conditions when parking overnight, leave the car in gear and the handbrake off if it is safe to do so. This will prevent the handbrake freezing in the on position.
- Check the operation of all exterior lights and clean the lenses if they are dirty. Headlights can quickly become covered in mud and salt when driving in bad conditions, so stop to clean them every so often.
Haynes Publishing editorial director Matthew Minter told Business Vans: “Winter conditions put extra strain on van and driver alike, and just a few minutes spent on some simple checks now can save a lot of trouble later.
“Owners need to take care of their vehicle over the winter months to keep themselves safe. Check the tyres, the lights and the battery, but most importantly drive safely. With black ice and foggy conditions becoming increasingly likely it is essential that business van drivers take proper care and pay attention to the road.”
Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.