ROAD SAFETY organisation GEM Motoring Assist is offering basic tips for drivers to ensure trouble-free journeys this winter. Giving some attention now to batteries, tyres, antifreeze, wipers, lights and other vehicle essentials is the best way of ensuring reliability in the months to come, especially if you haven’t been using your car as much as usual this year.
It’s also a key step towards making journeys safer, as it removes the risks that go with being stranded in a broken down car, says GEM.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth comments: “No one wants their car to break down on a chilly morning… or at any other time. At best it will bring inconvenience and delay, but since we rarely get to choose the location of a breakdown, there can also be significant risks involved for you, your passengers and other road users.
“Prevention is always better than cure, so by seeing to a few basic maintenance needs, you can greatly reduce the risk of a breakdown in the coming months.
“If you need a reminder of what you should be doing, then look no further than our online ‘How to…’ video guides which cover checks of tyre tread, tyre pressure and screenwash.”
Here are GEM’s five simple steps for reducing the chance of a breakdown or malfunction this winter:
 Get the battery and charging system checked to ensure best performance. A number of winter calls to GEM’s breakdown control centre relate to flat batteries Cold weather puts a lot of strain on tired batteries, so consider changing it now to avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown.
If your battery seems to be turning over more slowly than usual, get it checked straight away. Similarly, if the red battery warning symbol illuminates on the dashboard, do get the battery checked.
 Ensure your car’s cooling system has the correct levels of anti-freeze, which is vital to prevent the water in your engine’s cooling system from freezing. GEM recommends you consult your local dealer or a qualified mechanic to ensure this is done correctly.
 Make sure all the lights on your car, inside and out, are working properly. Clean them regularly to ensure they are free of dirt, so that you can see, and others can see you.
 Check tyre tread depth and pressure weekly through the winter. Good tyres will ensure the safety systems on your car are as effective as possible. GEM recommends a minimum tread depth of 3mm (the legal minimum is 1.6mm), as this will disperse much more water from the road and will minimise your risk of skidding and losing control.
 Check your windscreen wipers, front and rear. Make sure they are working properly, and top up your screenwash regularly using cold weather washer fluid. Do not use the windscreen wipers to clear ice, as this will very quickly lead to damage.
For GEM’s ‘How to’ video guides covering a range of simple home maintenance tasks for your car, visit https://www.motoringassist.com/howtguides/
Follow GEM on Twitter @MotoringAssist for the latest industry news.