river training specialist IAM Drive & Survive is offering weekly motoring tips to drivers from its head of training, Simon Elstow. This week, as forecasters predict a tougher winter for 2012, he is advising motorists on preparing their cars for the cold season.

Simon Elstow said: “Now is the time to give your car a once-over before winter conditions take hold. Bad weather can strike suddenly and more severely than you expect, so it’s really important to be proactive, rather than reactive.”

Some simple tips to prepare your car for winter:

  1. In a UK winter you are most likely to encounter wind and rain, so make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition, your screen wash is topped up and that the inside of your windscreen is clean.
  2. Do a thorough check of your vehicle: check your engine coolant level and make sure last year’s ice scraper and de-icer are up to the job.
  3. The legal minimum for tyre tread in the UK is 1.6mm, but for optimum safety start looking for replacements if the depth is below 3mm.
  4. Test all your lights.
  5. Pack an emergency kit, including a warm coat, high visibility jacket, some food and water, a good pair of boots, de-icer and scraper, a torch, a spade and a mobile phone with a well-charged battery. Remember to store your emergency breakdown number.

Elstow said: “Many roads are still pot-holed after last winter, so having a well-maintained car and paying particular attention to your tyres will be extremely important.”