Give your car an Arctic BLAST check

Home / Auto News / Give your car an Arctic BLAST check

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Peugeot 2008 GT Line in the snow

Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company, is urging motorists to be ready for the cold spell with a simple five-point checklist.

The checks spell out the word BLAST and are easy to remember when icy weather is predicted.

Kwik Fit has highlighted the key components which can be vulnerable to cold weather and are vital for ensuring your car can be relied on in winter, especially it has been used less frequently than previously.

  • Battery.  Batteries have to work harder to start a car in cold temperatures with problems sometimes only becoming apparent when it’s too late.  If a battery has struggled to start a car in warmer weather, a cold snap may place too big a demand on it
  • Lights.  The importance of working lights is obvious during the shorter hours of daylight, not only to see but to be seen
  • Antifreeze/coolant. Anti-freeze will protect the engine at low temperatures, but only at the correct level and concentration so the condition of the liquid in the reservoir and system should be checked
  • Screen. Visibility can be poor in winter weather, so drivers should make sure their screen condition does not comprise it further.  Screen wash level and wiper blade condition should be checked, as well as the glass for any chips or cracks.  If not repaired, these can become more vulnerable in cold weather.  Never use boiling water to clear icy glass as the very sudden temperature change brings a risk of it cracking
  • Tyres. As the only point of contact with the road, having tyres in good condition is even more important when surfaces are slippery.  Drivers should check tread depth, pressures and also sidewall condition.  They should also ensure that their spare is ready to use if needed, or if their car has an emergency sealant kit they know how to use it

“The first cold spell of a year always reveals problems with cars which are a surprise to their owners,” said Roger Griggs of Kwik Fit.

“The most common of these is battery failure which can happen with little or no warning. A engine which was starting during warmer autumn months may simply be too much for an old or worn battery when the temperature drops.

“In the case of tyres, drivers may not have noticed excessive or uneven wear until they need maximum grip in slippery conditions – and at that point it may be too late.

“As is always the case in motoring checks and maintenance, prevention is much better than cure, so we urge drivers to carry out winter BLAST checks in advance of any journeys they need to make.”


Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who’s worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

Check Also

Peugeot e-208 at Christmas Market

Top 10 Christmas markets for EV drivers

England’s best Christmas markets for electric vehicle drivers have been revealed in a new study, …

Winter tyres ‘aren’t a priority’ for UK drivers

Gareth Herincx

2 days ago
Auto News

Audi RS 3: dancing in the snow

Just one in five motorists in the UK think it is important to swap their cars onto winter tyres, new research by Audi UK indicates.

The use of winter tyres is mandatory during the winter months in many countries and regions throughout Europe, but there is no legal requirement to fit them in the UK.

However, the study – which coincides with Road Safety Week- revealed that 61% of the UK drivers had no plans to switch to winter tyres this year.

For 44% of survey respondents, the absence of legal obligation was enough to convince them to pass up the added safety and protection winter tyres offer, while the impact on running costs of buying and maintaining an additional set of tyres was the spanner in the works for 40% of respondents.

Additionally, the potential difficulties involved in storing the wheels and/or tyres out-of-season was the main impediment for 22% of participants.

“The safety benefits of winter wheels and tyres are considerable from temperatures below 7°C – regularly seen in the UK as the winter months roll in,“ says Audi UK’s James Allitt.

“Our research highlights misconceptions among UK drivers about their merits, and also understandable concerns about the cost and inconvenience of ownership, and I hope we’ve gone some way towards addressing these misconceptions.

“Fundamentally, though, I firmly believe that any driver able to make the switch to winter tyres won’t ever regret doing so when they feel the difference they can make.”

Check Also

Maserati Grecale Barbie Edition

Meet the shocking pink Maserati Grecale Barbie Edition

Maserati has teamed up with Mattel Inc’s Barbie to unleash an ultra limited edition Maserati …

Regular or runflat tyres – which are best for you?

Falken Tyres

Runflat tyres have their pros and cons. We road tested a new set of Falken “extended mobility tyres” to find out for ourselves…

Unless you have access to state-of-the-art tyre evaluation facilities, there’s no better time to road test new rubber than a straight swap with an existing set on a car you know well.

After months of searching for a second-hand BMW Z4, I finally found one during the summer heatwave.

BMW Z4 E85

A very tidy example (E85) from 2005 with just 75,000 miles on the clock, there was only one issue. The tyres.

Don’t get me wrong, they all had more than enough tread and there was no damage. The problem was that there was a mix of three budget brands.

It looked like a previous owner had plumped for the cheapest tyres they could find – on one or more occasion – just to get it through an MOT or two.

Mixing tyres isn’t a good idea and it was clear from the test drive and subsequent trips on more familiar local roads that the Z4 was tramlining and the tyres weren’t balanced.

Time for a change, so I took up an offer from Falken Tyres to have a new set of rubber fitted. I plumped for Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM (Falken Extended Mobility Technology) tyres, otherwise known as runflats – a controversial choice in Z4 circles.

Even though runflats were originally fitted to the Z4 (OEM or original equipment manufacturer) and it was developed with these in mind, many owners have now switched to conventional tyres.

What are runflats?   

Runflats, or run flats, have specially reinforced sidewalls that mean you can continue driving on them at a limited speed and for a limited period, even if you have a puncture.

There are other advantages. You don’t have to change the wheel at the side of the road (often in dangerous locations) and no spare wheel means more space in the boot, less overall weight and improved fuel efficiency and mileage.

Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM tyres

Falken says its FEXM tyre technology is an improvement on traditional runflat tyres, offering the convenience and safety of “run-flats” whilst retaining the comfort and compatibility of conventional tyres, alongside improved rolling resistance and lower weight.

Crucially, drivers have the ability to travel up to 80km (49.7 miles), at up to 80km/h (49.7mph) at zero pressure. Falken’s run-flats can also be fitted on a conventional wheel rim as long as the vehicle has a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).

Sounds good. However, runflats are not perfect and they are a compromise, as I’ll explain…

 Back on the road

So, I had the new set of tyres fitted and balanced, but there was a problem with the wheel alignment because the rear nuts were seized. That was sorted a few weeks later, but in the meantime there was an immediate improvement in terms of road noise (much less) and grip (lots more).

After the tracking had finally been completed it was time to work out definitively how the new Falken tyres had affected the Z4 in other ways.

The good news is that it’s improved no end on smooth roads in both the wet and dry. The stopping distance in the wet (especially) is superb, no doubt helped by the wide circumferential grooves for efficient water displacement.

Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM tyres

The overall ride is firmer, but there’s excellent grip and traction, and you really can confidently push these tyres to the limit.

However, on poorer roads with an uneven camber there’s still some tramlining. I’ve experimented with tyre pressures and by lowering them to closer to the minimum recommended, this has improved matters, but the tramlining hasn’t been totally eliminated.

That said, as long as you are mindful of this on certain roads, it’s not enough to spoil the enjoyment of the Z4 ownership experience.

Ultimately, sports cars are sensitive little things and tyres make a huge difference. Having read the views of other Z4 owners, it’s clear that my experience is not unusual.

Falken ZIEX ZE310 ECORUN FEXM tyres

So, the compromise with run-flats is convenience and safety over ride comfort and handling on uneven surfaces.

Visit the Falken Tyres website to get the lowdown on their range of award-winning tyres which are fitted as standard on new cars from the likes of Toyota, Volkswagen and SEAT.

The Falken brand was born in 1983 and Falken Tyre Europe is the European subsidiary of the Japanese tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd – the sixth largest tyre manufacturer in the world.

Young drivers putting brakes on car maintenance

Young driver - IAM RoadSmart

New research claims that more than three-quarters of motorists aged 18-34 have delayed key vehicle checks to save money.

As drivers battle the cost of living crisis, data commissioned by the UK’s leading independent road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, also shows almost a third (28%) of younger drivers have held off their annual car service and 30% have put off changing their oil.

Key tyre checks have also been put on hold, with 30% of younger drivers surveyed also admitting putting off fixing a puncture, and 28% delaying changing tyres with low tread.

But it’s not just younger drivers who are making tough choices on car upkeep. The data also found that 15% of all drivers, of all ages, said their annual car service is on the backburner thanks to the rise in living costs, with 11% avoiding paying out for necessary tyre changes.

Which of the following repairs/improvements have you put off/delayed making to your car as a result of the cost-of-living crisis?
Total Total (all ages) 18-34
Service 15% 28%
Tyre change, eg replacing a tyre with low tread 11% 28%
Tyre repair, eg fixing a puncture 7% 22%
Oil change 9% 30%
None of these 61% 21%

“This study shows that drivers are already making difficult choices about what they can and cannot afford, which could negatively impact the environment, their safety and the safety of other road users.” said Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart.

“Servicing doesn’t just look good in a log book, it’s there for a reason, and can pick up a range of issues which could present safety risks to drivers, if not spotted.

“It also ensures that your car’s engine is running as efficiently as possible, so ignoring servicing guidelines could cost you more in the long run in repairs or increased fuel consumption.

“Likewise, tyre health has a hugely important role to play in car and road safety. Tyres with low-tread depth have less road grip, and might be illegal, so it is of concern that motorists are sadly having to put off these vital repairs.

“There is no doubt that as living costs rise, motorists are feeling the squeeze, but we urge drivers to consider the safety implications of avoiding vital repairs, especially any which may be a legal requirement and could lead to more expensive costs down the line – or worse, risking their lives or other road users. Key behaviour changes, such as driving more economically to reduce fuel consumption, can be a way to cut costs without cutting safety.”

Cost-of-living crisis: Fuel saving tips for motorists

Filling up with fuel - Bridgestone

Seven ways you can ease the pain at the pumps…

Whether you’re heading off on your summer holidays or coping with high fuel prices day-to-day basis, there’s no harm in trying to squeeze the maximum miles out of your tank of petrol or diesel.

We’ve teamed up with tyre giant Bridgestone to provide a series of fuel-saving tips to ease the pain at the pumps.

Bridgestone’s Technical Manager Gary Powell

By tweaking driving styles, Bridgestone’s Technical Manager Gary Powell believes that a typical tank can last longer, ensuring trips to the forecourt aren’t needed quite so urgently.

1. Make sure you purchase the best tyres for your vehicle

It’s important to invest in the right tyres for your vehicle while you may be tempted to go “budget” in the long-term this will cost you more money and be more expensive on your pocket in terms of fuel. Opting for a premium product can increase fuel-range. Bridgestone is one of the world’s largest tyre manufacturers and boast some of the best performing products in terms of low-rolling resistance.

2. Check your tyre pressures

It’s really important to make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in your owner’s manual. Underinflated and overinflated tyres both adversely affect fuel economy. Not only that you are compromising your safety – when your tyres are under inflated it compromises your ability to brake and manoeuvre safely. Vehicles with under-inflated tyres have increased rolling resistance that require more fuel to maintain the vehicles speed. This is not good for your pocket and equates to higher Co2 emissions too, which is not good for the environment either.

3. Check your tyres

If your tyres are not inflated correctly or are wearing it is both unsafe but will also have an effect on your fuel consumption. Try the 20p tread test. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, so to check if your tyres are legal, insert a 20p coin into the tread to check. If any part of the coin’s border is visible, it’s time to change the tyres.

4. Easy on the accelerator

Excessive speed is the biggest fuel-guzzling factor so having a light right foot and ensuring all acceleration is gentle is very important to fuel-efficient driving. The best way to achieve high MPG (Miles per gallon) is to drive in the highest possible gear while keeping within the speed limit. The best advice in urban areas is to change up through the gears as quickly as you can with the lowest revs possible. The faster an engine spins, the more fuel it uses.

5. Anticipate

Anticipation is key. Try to anticipate what’s going to happen in front of you by looking well ahead. By doing this, you’ll see the traffic lights on red meaning you can ease back on the accelerator or slow down as you approach and potentially keep moving as opposed to coming to a stop. Keeping the car moving at the right speed is essential to fuel economy. Obviously, this depends on traffic conditions and what’s happening on the road ahead, but slowing down and having to accelerate again uses more fuel.

6. Cruise control

Cruise control only aids fuel economy when driving on a constant flat surface, hence why it is usually best reserved for motorway driving. One of the keys to saving fuel is driving at a constant speed, cruise control can do this effectively on flat surfaces, making your driving as fuel efficient as possible by negating unnecessary acceleration. However, if you were to use your cruise control regularly, not on flat roads, you would encounter problems that would increase your fuel consumption.

7. Lighten the load

Don’t pack things into your car that you won’t be needing once you arrive at your destination. Also, don’t leave your roof bars and roof box on because they create wind resistance and cause your car to use more fuel through the ‘drag’ effect. This is increased the faster you drive. Driving with an open window also has a similar effect. And while this isn’t going to make the biggest difference to your MPG figures, it stands to reason that the heavier a vehicle is, the more fuel it will use.