9 January 2020

How to keep your vehicle safe during winter

By Road Runner
Winter tyres on an icy road

If you are trading vehicles, whether full time or part time, then you are likely to have cash tied up in stock. This could be a few cars or maybe a larger commercial operation from a business premises.  It’s essential that your stock is suitably protected throughout the year, but even more so in winter.

With the UK winter seemingly getting colder every year, and the potential for sleet, snow or both, can you really take the chance?

It’s the new year, and I’ve just acquired a new vehicle to sell on – what should I check?

The first things to check are the car tyres. While the dangers of driving with an iced-up windscreen is obvious to most, the tyres on a car can often deceive you.

Quick tyre tips:

  • Maintain regular checks, especially over the winter months.
  • The tread depth is key – while the UK legal limit is 1.6mm tread depth around the central three quarters of the tyre, the recommended tyre tread depth is 3mm.


The 20p tyre tread trick involves running a 20p piece around the tread grooves of your tyres. If you can see the outer band of the coin, it’s time to get the tyres changed!

Another key part of the car to check is the battery. The vehicle you have just acquired might not have been started as regularly as you think, meaning that during winter, its battery will be subject to pummelling from both the cold temperatures and the increased usage from heaters, lights and wipers.

What happens if your buyer wants to test drive?

When selling a used car, it is highly likely you will encounter a buyer who wants to take the vehicle for a spin before splashing the cash. What if, on the icy roads, they lose control of your car, or another motorist theirs?

You could look to change your vehicles’ tyres to winter alternatives, but this is expensive and exhaustive, with a set of winter wheels typically costing around 10-15% more than regular tyres.

Don’t over- or underinflate your tyres, as driving and braking will be impaired. This makes an accident while on a test drive in winter more likely. If your vehicle is deemed not roadworthy, you may not be covered on any insurance policy you may have.

It is worth looking into accompanied demonstration use cover, so you can provide test drives with peace of mind.

Are you transporting commercial vehicles on a trailer?

Do you buy vehicles at auction and transport them on a trailer or transporter? If so, it’s important to consider the tread depth of the transportation vehicle, and the added weight it will endure. Trailers are notorious for having a mind of their own, and this may be emphasised by wet and icy roads. In addition to the tyre checks above, you should also check for signs of tyre aging, such as cracking on the side of the rubber.

Did you know:

New 2020 proposals from the Department of Transport may make it a criminal offense to drive a trailer on tyres which are older than 10 years.

What if I am driving the car back from auction myself?

In the colder months, it’s a good idea to carry a winter breakdown kit, especially if you are heading home after a day at auction. While regular checks will help to ensure you never have to use it, always prepare. A good breakdown kit should include:

  • A spare mobile phone (or make sure your main one is fully charged)
  • Food, drink and blankets
  • A shovel and de-icer
  • High-vis vest and torch, in case you need to exit the vehicle

You may have found a bargain at auction, but is it hiding a potential costly insurance claim which will affect your no claims bonus?

Road Runner can help you with your road risks, liability and premises cover. Speak to our friendly team today on 0330 100 87 20 or make an enquiry online about a motor trade insurance quote.

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