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It’s time to come clean

Winter is one of the filthiest times of the year for your car, but few quick checks could make all the difference to your safety

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Winter is a horrible time for cars. Rainfall washes dirt and mud onto roads, street gritting creates a dark film of spray that clings to wheels and bodywork, and high winds blow dust and muck onto windscreens and lights.

It’s not long before your pristine motor is covered in black, sooty grime that turns bright coloured paintwork dark, obscures number plates, dims tail lights and leads to tell-tale finger marks across the boot lids of thousands of cars.

Country roads are especially dirty at this time of year, as local authorities spread greater amounts of salt, and farm vehicles introduce extra layers of mud from fields and yards onto the roads. Low overnight temperatures compound the problem by obscuring windscreens with frost while freezing your car’s screen wash systems solid.

Now road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist has said drivers should make daily safety checks to reduce the risk of a breakdown and ensure that visibility is not compromised by dirt or ice. And they’ve released some top tips for keeping clean, and safe, this winter.

“It’s difficult to keep cars clean during weather like this,” said a GEM spokesperson. “Layers of salt and dirt will build up quickly. If left, car lights will become less effective, number plates will become unreadable and it could be hard to see properly through the windscreen.”

Operation Clean Up: six top grime-busting safety tips

Wash, wipe and rub

It’s hard to believe how quickly dirt builds on a car at this time of year. Before every journey, take time to remove any excess dirt and ensure all the lights and windows are free of grime.

Top up your washer bottle

If you’re covering lots of miles, you will get through a large amount of water on a journey during the current dirty conditions. So don’t wait for the warning light – check and top up as often as necessary.

Stop scraping your blades

Don’t use your windscreen wipers to clear ice as you risk wearing out the blades and causing stress and damage to the operating system. Equally, don’t use wipers to shift dirt if the windscreen wash is empty or frozen. Stop somewhere safe and clear the windscreen properly.

Get down under

The underside of your car is particularly vulnerable to attack from salt and dirt. Give it a regular hosing to minimise the chances of any damage, and hose off any excess mud from brake discs.

Take it easy

Reduce speed and give yourself more time to complete your journey. By slowing down you will reduce the risk of skidding due to sudden manoeuvres. You will also minimise the spray and dirt that’s thrown up by your wheels.

Keep your distance

Don’t follow too close behind lorries and other heavy vehicles. This is not only safe and prudent, but it will also reduce levels of salt, dirt and other mess that gets sprayed onto your car.

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Tom Johnston
Tom Johnstonhttp://johnstonmedia.com/
Tom Johnston was the first-ever reporter on national motoring magazine Auto Express. He went on to become that magazine’s News Editor and Assistant Editor, and has also been Motoring Correspondent for the Daily Star and contributor to the Daily and Sunday Express. Today, as a freelance writer, content creator and copy editor, Tom works with exciting and interesting websites and magazines on varied projects.