With winter in full swing in most South African provinces, motorists are being cautioned about ensuring the safety of their vehicles by keeping up with maintenance checks. Without adequate preparations drivers could inadvertently increase the likelihood of accidents and put themselves at risk of having their insurance claim rejected.
“A tyre tread below the legal limit of 1.6mm significantly increases the likelihood of an accident occurring, especially in wet weather, and could result in an insurance claim being rejected if the insurer determines the cause of the accident to be as a direct result of poor tyre maintenance,” warned Christelle Fourie, managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances.
Besides routine tyre checks there are other important reviews that motorists should carry out advises Fourie. These include:
• Checking your battery power. Due to colder conditions, engines require more battery power to start up. “By checking the strength of the battery and replacing it if necessary, motorists can avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure,” she said.
• Ensuring that your visibility is good. “Something as simple as the replacement of worn wiper blades can drastically reduce the chances of an accident occurring,” advised Fourie.
• Ensuring your lighting system is in peak condition so that you are visible to other motorists.
• Preventing fluid leaks by checking coolant levels. “Coolant levels should also be checked in winter as colder temperatures shrink gaskets and could result in a fluid leak. The addition of an antifreeze solution to a vehicle ensures that the coolant remains in liquid form to carry out its core function of cooling the engine. Make sure the level is full and the mixture of water and antifreeze is close to 50/50,” added Fourie.
"We start seeing an increase in these types of claims in the winter. But insurance companies hold the consumer responsible for keeping cars roadworthy,"added Fourie. "This all seems very obvious to say but we see these types of claims come through all the time and normally these kinds of accidents are quite severe resulting in R400,000 to R500,000 in damage costs."