Drive Safely This Winter

Well, we’ve certainly had some weather over the last few weeks! And by the time you read this we may well have had our first snow of winter as well.

Here at Sandy Lane we consider a lot of our customers to be friends as well. And we care about your safety! So here are 5 things to think about to ensure you’re equipped to drive this winter:

  1. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

While we hope it doesn’t happen to you, pack some extra things in your boot just in case you have an accident or get caught in snow, including:

  • warm clothes, a blanket and some wellies or waterproof boots in case you’re stranded somewhere or need to walk part of the way home,
  • snacks and (non-alcoholic!) drinks to tide you over, and
  • a shovel to clear snow from around your car.
  1. Expect freezing weather

Make sure you have de-icer and a scraper in the car – there are better ways to use a credit card than chipping away at the ice on your windscreen! And now’s the time to check that your coolant and screen wash both have antifreeze in. Finally, pack your sunglasses! I know they’re not the first thing you think of on a wintery day, but a combination of low sun and bright snow can be a killer.

  1. Plan your journey

Check the weather and the traffic reports before you start out, even if you’re just doing the commute or school run. And leave extra time. Even if you’re a confident driver in rain, fog, or snow, others might not be, so expect it to take longer to get places.

  1. Give your vehicle the once-over

A well-maintained car saves fuel, the inconvenience of a breakdown and, more importantly, lives. So make sure you’re up-to-date with your servicing, and replace any worn out wiper blades and tired tyres.

  1. Take it slow and smooth

Bad weather means unpredictable drivers; the slower you’re going the quicker you’ll stop if someone skids or slams on the brakes. When you do brake, do it slowly or change down gears to avoid skidding, and accelerate slowly too, to reduce the chances of your wheels spinning on the ice or snow. And remember, when you’ve driven through flood water (and there’s plenty on the M60!) gently test your brakes before you start to speed up again.

The best Christmas present you can give your friends and family is to stay safe on wintery roads. So, to make sure your car is winter-ready, contact us at Sandy Lane. From replacing windscreen wipers to your regular service, we’re ready to help!

Coping With The Snow

As we all can see, the snow is all around us, so how do we cope with this?

Below is a walk-through of tips and advice to get through this harsh period.


Before you set out:

Check tyres for adequate tread. Poor tyres will not grip when driving on snow and ice. If you live in an area where snow is common it might be worth changing to winter tyres with deeper tread

Use a good quality screenwash that protects down to at least -35 to prevent the water from freezing. If you don’t, your windscreen wipers could be rendered useless in extreme conditions

Allow more time in the morning to clear car windows and mirrors of snow before setting off

Use lukewarm water or de-icer to defrost the outside of your vehicle. You should never use hot or boiling water

Make sure any auto wiper control is switched off before turning the ignition on as this could blow the wiper control fuse if they are frozen to the screen

Be prepared for every eventuality by ensuring that your car is equipped with the following: demisting pad, torch (wind-up so you don’t run out of battery), spare screenwash, de-icer, ice scraper, blanket, shovel, phone charger, map and a square of carpet that you can use to put under your drive wheels should you get stuck in the snow.

Remove snow from the top of your car. Otherwise breaking sharply could cause snow to fall onto the windscreen and hamper your vision or another driver’s


Do you need to use snow socks?

The following tips should always be followed when driving in the snow:

It’s important to accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible. You may need to move off in second gear as this will help reduce wheel slip

You may need to leave as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap between you and the car in front

If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it – for example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes

If the road has not been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheeltracks or other vehicles as compressed snow is likely to be more icy than fresh snow

Controls such as the brakes, as well as the steering, accelerator and even gear changing should be operated smoothly and slowly

Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow

Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer


De-icing your vehicle

We recommend allowing about 10 minutes to clear your windscreen thoroughly using a scraper and de-icer if necessary. Don’t forget about the other windows and your mirrors as well … they’re just as vital for safe visibility and are often ignored, limiting your vision, especially at junctions.

Don’t be tempted to pull away until the windscreen is fully clear – it can be dangerous and the Highway Code states it is illegal to drive with poor visibility.

Plan ahead to save time in the mornings, either by putting an windscreen cover on the night before or getting up a little earlier so you have plenty of time to de-ice your vehicle.

Never pour hot or boiling water on your windscreen, otherwise you run the risk of cracking the glass and an expensive repair bill. If you don’t have any de-icer, you could use lukewarm water.

It’s also a good idea to carry a lock de-icer with you to clear your lock. If your locks do get frozen, try warming the key or spraying de-icer or an oil-based lubricant into the lock.

Finally, ensure all your vehicle lights, front and rear, are free from frost and/or snow – a thick film of frost on the lens can affect the intensity of the lights, making it difficult for other road users to see you or your signals.

If you use the vehicle’s heater /screen demister, don’t leave your car unattended while you wait for it to defrost as you run the risk of having your vehicle stolen.

Sandy Lane is a RAC approved garage, which means you’re eligible for 2 months complimentary breakdown cover when we repair or service your vehicle so call us on 0161 480 4117 for more information today!


Winter Checklist For Driving

Winter is on our doorstep so you’re more likely to breakdown or come into contact with problems. There’s more risk of delays too but not necessarily in the way you’d expect. If vehicles ahead lose control – a jack-knifed lorry for example – you won’t be able to get through no matter how well equipped your car is with winter tyres or chains.

You could face a wait of several hours until the blockage and other traffic ahead has been cleared.
Here’s what you need to do this winter to reduce the risk of a breakdown and make sure that you are equipped to deal with the conditions.

Winter driving

For your car:

Antifreeze – check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection.

Battery – the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold – get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.

Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.

Lights – check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.

Tyres – should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.

Windscreen – reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.

Screen wash – use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.
Locks and door seals – stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.
For you and your passengers:

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. As well as the things you should be carrying on every journey regardless of the weather, you should make up a winter emergency kit to keep in the boot – hopefully you won’t need it but you will be very glad it’s there if you do.

Year-round essentials:

• Fully-charged mobile phone and in-car charger
• Sunglasses – to deal with glare from the sun or snow
• Personal medication
• Warning triangle
• Spare bulbs
• First aid kit
• Road atlas – in case of diversions
• Sat-nav or printed route for unfamiliar journeys
• Breakdown membership card

These things you should have especially for winter:

• Blanket, rug or sleeping bag
• Shovel
• Bits of carpet or thick cardboard to place under driven wheels to help regain traction on ice or snow
• Salt, sand or cat litter – to help clear snow and ice
• Reflective jacket(s)
• Ice scraper and de-icer
• Torch and batteries
• Tow rope
• Snow chains (if you live in a remote or rural area)
• Battery jump leads
• Bottled water
• Snacks – chocolate or cereal bars
• Extra screen wash

Backup items for when bad weather is forecast:

• Warm winter coat, scarf, hat, gloves and warm clothes
• Waterproofs
• Sturdy boots
• Flask of hot drink


Winter Tyres and Why They’re So Important

When it comes to winter tyres, there isn’t much awareness around the UK about their benefits, many people seem to believe they are only for use in severe ice and deep snow, this isn’t the case at all.

In fact, drivers will benefit from using winter tyres on slush, ice, frost and even wet roads. In fact any time the temperature dips below +7 degrees centigrade, you’re better off on winter tyres.

Unlike summer tyres (everyday standard tyres in the UK), winter tyres do not harden at lower temperatures. That means they give you a much better grip on the road and the ability to stop in a shorter distance, increasing your safety on the road.

The rubber compound of a winter tyre is very different to a summer tyre. It is designed specifically to work in temperatures under +7 degrees centigrade.

What happens to a summer tyre when the temperature drops is that the tyre compound loses its flexibility, making it grip less in low temperatures. Winter tyres are made from specially developed compound with more natural rubber so they don’t harden when it’s cold, which means increased grip on the road and greater safety.

On ice and snow winter tyres provide grip that no summer tyre can match. A vehicle fitted with winter tyres will come to standstill on a snow-covered road (from a speed of just 30mph) after 35 metres – with normal tyres the braking distance required is a further 8 metres (43 metres). That is another two car lengths.

This diagram shows the big difference between both types of tyres

At Sandy Lane Service Station we can provide you with a free tyre check and we also sell a range of winter tyres to get you safely past the winter months.

We also provide a free winter safety check with any full price MOT!

Call us now on 0161 480 4117 for more information.

Getting Your Car Ready For Winter

Winter is just around the corner, so it’s best to have your car serviced before the ice comes in order to give your car the best chance of coming through it unscathed
• Get your battery checked. Batteries have got much better in recent years, however they don’t like the cold are more likely to fail when the temperature falls.
• Make sure you have the correct mixture of anti-freeze in the engine cooling system. Modern anti-freeze protects your engine in all conditions, hot and cold, so should be kept at the correct levels all year.
• Your windscreen washer fluid should be kept topped up as winter driving can get messy. Use the correct mixture of screenwash and water as this acts as anti-freeze. Don’t use washing up liquid, it will freeze solid.
• Have your air-con system checked as performance can drop off over time. Your air-con is vital in bad weather as it demists the windows far more efficiently when it’s working properly giving you better visibility.
• Winter driving requires extra tread in your tyres, the tread should be at least 3mm deep. We supply winter tyres to get you through the harshest environments.

To get your car prepared for winter driving call us on 0161 480 4117 or visit our site at and book yourself in!

Warning Lights

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The dreaded warning light can be a hart stopping moment for any motorist, but if you neglect to get your car checked when any of the automotive warning lights come on you could be neglecting a serious problem. The check engine light, and other warning lights, can come on for a number of reasons. And thankfully they aren’t major problems and will not cost you an arm and a leg, but you won’t know until you get it checked out.

In addition to the typical check engine light, many cars have several other lights that come on to indicate a problem. They can warn about problems with the alternator, battery, engine temperature or other areas surrounding the engine that are monitored. To protect your engine, either preform a diagnostics check when the light comes on and then fix the problem yourself if you have the knowledge or  bring your car down to Sandy Lane Service Station and one of our mechanics will perform  a diagnostics test and carry out any required work. If you wait too long after the light comes on you could allow a small problem to develop into a big one.

For more information on Warning Light issues please contact

Winter tyres, Socks & Chains

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There is a common misconception that winter tyres are only beneficial to us when it has snowed and as this is rather a rare occurrence in the UK most people think they’re hardly worth the outlay. The reality is rather different though, unlike standard tyres, winter tyres don’t harden when the temperature drops and therefore offer better grip and shorter stopping distances at temperatures below 7°C.

Basically this means that when driving at 20mph in wet or icy conditions, winter tyres have a stopping distance of 58metres, compared to 67metres on standard tyres and can reduce stopping distances by up to eight meters in snow.

If  however you find  winter tyres our just that bit out of your budget, it may be worth considering a set of snow tyre socks instead, these cost upwards of £30 a pair and can considerably improve grip in snow and ice.

Only two snow socks need fitting to the drive wheels, but if wished you can fit them all round for added traction, to avoid premature wear they should be removed when not driving in snow and ice.

If you’re planning going to drive on particularly hazardous, snow-covered roads, you may have to fit a set of snow chains to your tyres, these should only be used on roads that have a compacted covering of snow or ice else you risk damaging both the road surface and your vehicle.

Winter Driving Tips

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Getting ready for winter is essential for all drivers, especially for people who depend on driving to earn a living.

Whether you are covering long distances or simply making short journeys, it is worth making sure that you are fully prepared for the problems that can, and often will, arise in winter weather.

In this section we look at the main things you need to know to stay safe starting with some general advice.

  • Always carry a survival pack in the car, including food, water and a blanket. This should include extra warm clothes.
  • Ensure your phone battery is fully charged and you have an in-car charger.
  • Put a shovel in your boot – in case you need to dig yourself out of trouble.
  • Consider fitting winter tyres, but even if you don’t, have your summer tyres checked. Winter driving means that tyres should have no less than 3mm remaining tread.
  • Have your battery checked. Batteries have to work extra hard in the cold and are more likely to fail.
  • Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is topped up with the correct concentration of screen wash. Windscreens get particularly dirty in the winter months and screen wash will help prevent the liquid from freezing.
  • Have your coolant checked – the antifreeze needs to protect your engine against the lowest of temperatures.
  • Have your air-con system serviced. It’s not just for summer – an effective air-con system will demist windscreens much more quickly, helping visibility.
  • Adjust your driving style to the conditions – be sensible in the rain, snow and ice.
  • Above all, in bad conditions consider whether your journey is really necessary.

A Cold Start

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At this time of the year it’s not uncommon for a car not to start when it’s freezing cold outside.

Here are a few tips for trouble shooting and getting back on the road.

  • If your car fails to start after twenty seconds of turning the engine over, stop and wait for a minute or two before attempting to start again. This gives the battery time to recover by allowing the starter motor to cool down.
  • Gently press on the accelerator once and then release it. By doing this it will inject a small amount of fuel into the engine which can help get things going. There is no need with fuel-injected engines. Almost every vehicle today will have cold starting instructions in the Operator’s Manual.
  • Turn the key and hold it for 20 seconds, this should help to get the engine going. However don’t hold it for any longer than 20 seconds as over grinding the starter can cause mechanical damage. If the engine fails to turn over, wait a couple of minutes and try again.
  • Turn off the heater, radio and lights. This will help to maximize your starting power.
  • If the starter turns very slowly, or not at all, your battery is probably dead. It’s now time for a jump-start. You will need a set of jumper cables and a willing volunteer with a running car, Make sure you know what you’re doing before you attempt this.
  • At some point in every car’s lifetime, its battery must be replaced. Car batteries typically last about three to five years. If your car needs to be jump-started, it may be time to consider purchasing a new battery.

Christmas Spirits

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Police are urging people to STAY off the alcohol completely to ensure safe seasonal driving this Christmas.

This is the message from road policing officers across Manchester as they launched their anti-drink and drug driving campaign for the festive period on the 29th November.

Police will be setting up a ‘zero alcohol’ bar this Christmas as the trend to drink and drive is on the increase at this time of year, even a blood alcohol level of 20-50mg will increases your likelihood of crashing three-fold and with drink and drive related deaths account for an estimated 17 per cent of all road fatalities is it worth the risk?

It’s time to stop calling these tragic outcomes accidents as they are devastating but preventable, they are not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines a lot of work made to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

There are plenty of alternatives to driving if you plan to have a drink. Plan ahead for how you will get home by taking public transport or booking a taxi. If you must drive then decide on a designated driver who doesn’t drink any alcohol at all.

Don’t drink more than a few drinks if you are driving early the following morning. There’s no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, If you are unsure then leave 12 hours from bottle to peddle.

Be safe this Christmas and enjoy the festive season, just not behind a wheel.