RACT Patrols and Contractors often see the result of poor maintenance out on the roadside during the cold, dark winter months. There are some simple checks you can make to ensure your vehicle is winter-ready.
- Tyre condition, tread depth and pressures: Poor tyre condition, especially low tread levels, can be particularly dangerous in wet or icy conditions. Low tread levels are more likely to result in aquaplaning during wet weather. This can result in a complete loss of control at high speeds. Importantly, don't forget to check the tread on the inside edges of your tyres. Turn your front wheels to full lock to easily inspect the inside edges. You should have at least 1.5mm of tread across the full surface of the tread – any less and you are getting into dangerous territory when the roads are wet, not to mention potentially being booked for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. Refer to your vehicle handbook or tyre placard for correct tyre pressures.
- Windscreen wiper rubbers and windscreen condition: There is nothing worse (or dangerous) than not being able to see where you're going. Replacing wiper rubbers is a relatively easy DIY task if you are a little bit handy. If not, see your mechanic because if you mess it up, scratched windscreens can be expensive to replace.
- Battery condition: Are the terminals clean and tight, how old is it? Winter months are very hard on car batteries. Slow cranking/starting first thing is a good sign the battery is getting tired and may need replacing. No one wants to be stranded during the cold winter months. We recommend you get your battery tested well before the winter weather hits so you don't get caught out. RACT members can receive free battery testing and free delivery and installation when buying a new battery. For more information visit ract.com.au/batteries.
- Lights: Don't forget to the check them all, including the rear lights and brake lights. If you don't have someone to help you do this, attach a mirror or something shiny somewhere you often reverse up to. That way you can easily check all your rear lights each time you're leaving.
- Check fan belts for cracking and tightness: Every car has a different size and type these days and often they cannot be repaired at the roadside.
- Heater, A/C and demister operation: Again, it is dangerous if you can't see where you're going. Using the A/C along with the heater is the best way to quickly defog your windows.
- Has your vehicle been serviced at least once during the past 12 months? A thorough inspection by a competent mechanic is the best way to be sure your car is in good safe condition. If you don't have a regular mechanic check out RACT AutoServe in Hobart and Launceston at ract.com.au/ract-auto-serve. RACT members receive 10% off labour costs.
We are also reminding drivers to use their headlights in low light and poor conditions after continued concerns have been raised by members. Our policy is that headlights should be switched on for all highway driving. If you can't see other motorists, they can't see you.
If your headlights are broken or not working properly, get them replaced. It is also an offence to use high beam headlights within 200m of a moving vehicle. Apart from the danger posed to other road users, you can be fined and lose one demerit point.