Close up of dirty car wheel with rubber tire covered with yellow mud.

Dirty cars, fines, and winter hazards: Essential tips for a clean and safe drive this winter

With winter quickly approaching, it is inevitable that there will be storms, rain, snow, ice, and lowering temperatures.

This time of year is when our cars get the most dirt and debris on them; driving through muddy puddles can cover the windscreen and lights, and muddy shoes and coats can leave stains on the interior.

You should be worried about the condition of your car for more reasons than just aesthetics; driving a dirty car may even be illegal.

The Highway Code advises ‘lights, indicators, reflectors, and number plates MUST be kept clean and clear’ and is backed up by a law stating: “No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, on a road a vehicle unless every lamp, reflector, rear marking and device is in good working order and, in the case of a lamp, clean.”

Therefore, leaving your car unattended may result in an instant punishment of £30-£100, which might increase to £1,000 if you file an appeal and appear in court.

The top five car cleaning suggestions from Vanarama’s team of van rental professionals are here if you don’t want to bear the brunt of the muck this winter.

Here’s what they had to say:

Every week, check your windscreen and headlights for dirt and residue

You can prevent harmful buildup on your headlights by checking your windscreen and headlights once a week, or more frequently if there has been extremely severe, muddy weather. You can avoid unpleasant on-the-spot fines of £30-£100 for not driving in a vehicle that is fit for use, as well as the potential hazards associated with dirty headlights.

Use toothpaste to clean mud off your headlights

Indeed, you may use regular toothpaste on your headlights to make them extra clean and remove particularly grit-like deposits. When they become cloudy, use a cloth and warm, soapy water to remove all the excess dirt and filth. Next, use a spare toothbrush to gently rub in a little quantity of toothpaste until the dirt starts to dissolve. After that, give the headlights a quick clean down with a cloth and warm, soapy water, and they will look brand new.

Keep your washer fluid topped up to avoid fines for a muddy windscreen

The highway code further states that “windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision” in addition to the penalty previously specified. Mud from the roads can accumulate on our windscreens, particularly when we go to work and travel on motorways where other drivers’ spray from their cars is frequent. Keep your windscreen clear to prevent any unwelcome £1k fines. Mud can also create a film-like shine on windscreens, making them much harder to see out of.

Use laundry detergent to clean the interior of your vehicle

Rain is inevitable during this Christmas season, given British weather patterns. Spending more time in the car is inevitable when travelling long distances to see family and friends, especially when there are kids and dogs with muddy paws. Using laundry detergent from your home pantry, you can maintain the interior of your car immaculately clean.

To ensure that it doesn’t stain your seats, always try this on a little, discrete area of your upholstery first. To ensure your car’s inside looks as good as new, use a bucket filled with around 15ml of laundry detergent and 100ml of warm water. Use a soft cloth to gently dab away at any stubborn muddy spots.

During the autumn and winter, give your car a thorough deep clean once a month

In addition to routinely inspecting your windscreen, number plate, and headlights especially after driving in really muddy conditions, it’s a good idea to dedicate a day at the end of each month to giving your car the thorough cleaning it deserves. To remove any traces of dried dirt from the interior of your car and to stop the growth of bacteria and germs, give the interior a thorough cleaning and hoover.

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