Archive for Motoring Tips

Get your car ready for winter, Scandi-style

Winter Driving


We have a lot to thank Scandinavia for: Ikea, The Killing and of course, Sarah Lund’s fabulous jumpers. And although our winters are no match for theirs, Ireland’s motorists could take a few pointers from their meticulous winter driving prep – especially heading into what some experts say will be the coldest winter in 50 years.


In Ireland, traffic grinds to a halt as soon as a few flakes fall but when it snows in Scandinavia, traffic generally runs as usual. But being snow-ready is something deeply ingrained in the Scandinavian psyche and there are laws in place to deal with winter. In all Scandinavian countries bar Norway, drivers are required by law to swap over to winter tyres, and in some places it’s compulsory to carry snow chains too. Roads are salted at the first sign of snow and ice, and after a heavy snowfall, local farmers as well as municipal workers are mobilised to clear the roads. Carrying the right kit isn’t optional either. In Norway, it’s compulsory to have at least one visibility vest in your car and in Sweden you must carry antifreeze, a shovel to clear snow, and a warning triangle. And in Nordic neighbour Finland, speed limits are reduced from October to March.


While we don’t have the extreme weather that the Scandinavians do, there are still plenty of useful tips we can take from them to get our cars winter-ready.


Get your tyres right

  • Before your tyres come into contact with wet, snowy or icy road surfaces, you should make sure they are in perfect condition and have the right amount of air in them
  • When the temperature reaches freezing, switch to winter tyres. Effective on slush, ice, frost and wet roads, winter tyres are made from a different rubber compound so they don’t harden in the cold, giving increased grip and greater safety. Note they should be fitted in sets of four to avoid affecting the balance and stability of your car
  • Make sure your tyre tread depth is at least 3mm
  • Consider carrying snow chains, but only use them when the road is covered in snow or ice, not on a gritted road, otherwise you risk damaging the road surface and your car


Put on your lights

Our winters are dark and gloomy, so it’s a good idea to drive with your lights on even during daylight trips.


Carry the right kit

  • Before setting off, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged but remember to pull over if you need to use it.
  • Take a flask of hot drink and some water.
  • Take warm clothes and blankets.
  • Take an ice scraper, brush, and old rags.
  • Carry two warning triangles in case of difficulties.
  • Carry antifreeze and a shovel to clear snow.
  • Carrying spare headlight bulbs is also recommended.


Plan your journey

Before you set out, check the weather forecast, but don’t rely on it as conditions could change rapidly. When you’re on the road, reduce your speed and allow significantly more time to complete your journey when adverse conditions kick in. If it’s snowing heavily, ensure your headlights and number plates stay clear of snow, and if you’re on a long drive, pull over regularly for short breaks.


Of course, if the snow and ice does hit this winter, it’s much safer to stay home with a hot chocolate and the Borgen box set. But for those unavoidable journeys, we hope these tips will help you #DriveSafer.



For more #DriveSafer tips, visit the Liberty Insurance Facebook and Twitter pages or check out Winter Ready, a helpful website from the Department of Defence.

Get a car insurance quote today from Liberty Insurance.

Winter Car Care Guide

Winter Car Care
Oh, hello Abigail. Power cuts, schools closed and ferries cancelled. We think it’s safe to say, that after a good run, winter has finally arrived. And with it comes the need to run through the routine winter checks to ensure you keep motoring safely over the winter months.

Winter Checks

When conducting your winter check, pay attention to:

Tyres: Up to 25% off Selected Tyres

A complete new set of winter tyres (where the rubber is optimized to stay flexible during cold snaps as opposed to regular tyres which turn hard and slippery) might sound expensive. However, in reality, if you spend a lot of time on the road during the winter months it’s a worthwhile investment. And besides, while you’re driving around on the winter tyres, the regular set isn’t being used and worn down. Even if you don’t require winter tyres, it might be worth considering changing your tyres if you haven’t done so for a few years.

Battery: Up to 30% off Batteries

While it’s always advisable to have a professional check your battery, there are a few ways even a novice can carry out a routine check and maintenance. Look out for corrosion on posts and cable connections and scrape away where necessary. Give the surfaces a clean and re-tighten all connections. If you can remove the battery caps check the fluid level monthly. If you haven’t replaced the battery in the last three years, you should consider doing so.

Wiper Blades: Up to 20% off Wiper Blades

Rubber-cladded wiper blades are best suited for scraping ice from the windscreen. In addition to this, ensure you have refilled your windshield washer reservoir with wiper solvent and keep plenty on hand. You can really go through it in large quantities during the winter months.

Replenish Fluid Levels: 

Be rigorous about changing your car’s fluids and filters during the winter months. Your car’s older engine will thank you for it! Remember to change the oil and oil filter every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Use the recommended oil viscosity range for winter. 5W-30 motor oil flows quicker in cold weather than 20W-50. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend 5W-30 oil for year-round protection.

Tyre and Snow Sock Guide

Fitting your snow socks is easy, once you have the correct size. To calculate your snow sock size, you will need the width, profile and diameter of your tyres. On the side of each tyre, you will see a sting of letters and numbers as above. Simply note the width, profile and size.

Our snow socks are sold in four sizes – S, M, L and XL.
S size
M size
L size
XL size

Car Battery Maintenance

Dead Battery

You know the scenario…its early morning and its dark, cold and wet outside. You wrap up, pull the overcoat tight, put the head down and scuttle for the car. Safely ensconced, you put the key in and turn…nothing! You go again. There’s a brief spark of life but after some spluttering, the car returns to its’ vegetated state. Looks like you’re going to be late to work.

Winter is not your car batteries friend. Why? Your car battery is essentially a chemically filled canister – the problem with batteries in the colder months is that those chemicals act slower when the temperature drops and subsequently fewer electrons are produced. Without these electrons the starter motor has less energy to get itself going!

There are a number of ways of keeping your battery in optimal shape to prevent it from stalling during the colder winter months.



  • First things first, get yourself some BOOSTER CABLES. You will use them at some stage either on your battery or someone else’s (learn how to jump start your battery HERE if you’ve never done so before).
  • Invest in a good BATTERY CHARGER: It will end up saving you money and hassle in the long term!
  • Keep it clean: Especially around the terminals and cables (remove signs of corrosion, dirt and oxidation etc.) You can use a screwdriver or pliers to scrape away any dirt. If the build-up of grime can’t be removed so easily, bring the car to a mechanic and have them take care of it.
  • Avoid Short Trips: Starting the car in cold temperatures is particularly taxing on the battery (actually this is true in any temperature). Ergo, the less you start the car, the less work the battery has to do. Of course, the battery does need to be started up from time to time to hold a charge, so perhaps you can do a number of small errands in one go thus extending the car journey, and minimising the number of start up’s, or walk / cycle when possible.
  • Disconnect: If you are going to be away for an extended period of time, or perhaps you for whatever reason won’t be driving for a number of weeks, you can disconnect the battery. This will prevent things like the car’s clock from draining energy.
  • If your battery is in storage for some time, then a SOLAR POWER PANEL is a good investment for keeping it charged.
  • Battery Blanket: If there’s space around the battery you could insulate it. If the battery tends to be idle for any extended period of time this is recommended.
  • Minimise use of accessories when starting car!
  • Heat it up: Should you find yourself needing to jumpstart your battery, you can reduce the stress on the battery by heating it up first. Strick the car in neutral and push it into the sunlight (yes, we know, that’s not exactly a consistent option here).





  • A batteries age is a key factor in how it holds up during the winter months. The older the battery, the more likely it is to seize up in colder weather conditions. It is generally recommended that you replace the battery every 3-5 years.
  • Some batteries have a 4 or 5-digit shipping date code engraved. The first digit from the left are generally the most important. The letter stands for the month of the year (A = January; B = February etc). The second digit from the left is the year that the battery was shipped from the factory (0 = 2010, 1 = 2011, 2 = 2012 etc).
  • You can find a suitable battery for your vehicle HERE.

What to do when you’re hit from behind

Car Accident

When you set out on a journey, you don’t expect to breakdown or be involved in an accident, but it can, and does happen to drivers on a daily basis. And whether you’re on the motorway, in a city, town or on a rural road, it can be highly dangerous as well as inconvenient. So to avoid panic and putting yourself in unnecessary danger, here are the right steps to follow if an accident or breakdown situation does arise.



DO stay calm, put your hazard lights on, and find a safe area to stop if possible.

DO set out cones or a reflective triangle to make the accident area more visible to other vehicles. (Make sure you have the right contents in your car for all eventualities). This is particularly important if the crash happens at night or at anytime visibility is low.

DO ask everyone if they’re injured or feeling unwell.

DO call 999 to alert the Gardaí and, if necessary, ambulance and fire services.

DO take the names and contact details of any witnesses, including passengers in every vehicle involved in the crash.

DO ask to see the other drivers’ licences, and take down their licence number, number plate and address. All parties should exchange policy numbers and the names of the insurance companies should be written down.

DO (if possible) take photos or make notes on the accident scene, i.e. the direction the cars are in, skid marks and any debris from the accident.

DO contact your insurance company and give them all the information you gathered at the accident, such as the drivers’ insurance details, the damages sustained, and the types of vehicle involved in the accident.


DON’T ever leave the engine running, otherwise it can become a safety hazard and you risk starting a fire. Once your vehicle has stopped, turn off the ignition immediately.

DON’T administer first aid without the consent of the injured person if they are able to give it. If possible, don’t move or attempt to treat severe injuries until medical services arrive.

DON’T under any circumstances leave the accident until the Gardaí have arrived.

DON’T at any time make an admission of fault.


Finally, in any situation – accident or breakdown try not to panic. Shock and anger are natural emotions, especially in the event of an accident, but if you do your best to remain calm and in control of the situation, it will be a lot easier to get through.


This content is published with the consent of Liberty Insurance.

Visit the Liberty Insurance Facebook and Twitter pages for more #DriveSafer tips or get a car insurance quote today.



Tyre Blowouts Explained (and what you need to know to avoid them)

Tyre Blowouts


Leaving your tyre under-inflated is the absolute worst thing you can do to it. I’m stating the obvious here, but given that air is the very element that enables a tyre to carry the substantial weight of a vehicle and its contents, leaving it gasping is a sure fire way to ensure the various components get pushed beyond their limits eventually leading to blowouts.

Under-inflated tyres reduces endurance and braking, makes road-holding less precise and increases fuel consumption as well as the risk of aquaplaning.

Check your vehicle’s handbook for the recommended pressure.


Tyre Blowout: Underinflated and overloaded Tyre's.

Tyre Blowout: Under-inflated and overloaded Tyre’s.



Your tyres have a Load Index located on the sidewall. Find, it, check it and, here’s the really important part, ADHERE TO IT! Overloaded tyres build up an excess in heat. Excess heat leads to serious tyre damage, such as blowouts. This rule also applies to the maximum axle load rating on your vehicle.

And remember, the maximum pressure number found on the tyre sidewall only applies to tyres that are fully inflated.



This one is particularly relevant here in Ireland, especially for anyone who has to subject their cars to our country roads. At low speeds hitting a deep pothole will not only damage your tyre, but also the wheel and steering alignment. Hitting those potholes at a higher speed dramatically increases the level of this damage by unravelling / fraying the internal components (aka blowouts)

If you do hit a pothole, stop the car as soon as it’s safe to do so and check for cuts in the rubber or lumps in the sidewall. Check to see if the steering pulls excessively to one side or whether there’s a vibration through the steering. If so, get to a garage / tyre specialist, as driving will only further deteriorate the condition of the tyres.

Be aware that sometimes, these tell-tale signs won’t be immediately apparent. The true extent of the damage incurred only reveals itself after a number of months.


The Long Goodbye

This is really the result of all of the above combined, a gradual accumulation of damage through under-inflated tyres, overloading and occasional happenstances with potholes, all of which are accompanied by a general idleness on the owners part to deal with the issues initially. Don’t let it get to that stage – better to deal with the issues head on rather than risk the tyres failing when driving on the motorway at speed with the entire family on board en-route to a family holiday.


Controlling your car during a blowout:

Now, should you be unfortunate enough to experience a tyre blowout (either through no fault of your own or because you ignored the warning signs), there are a number of actions you can take to avoid turning a minor accident into a potentially fatal one.


Front Tyre

Most importantly, stay calm.

Do NOT slam on the brakes or make any sudden turns.

Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel and maintain a straight direction.

Check the mirrors on both sides for other traffic and plot the safest route to a gradual stop.

Bring the car to a gradual stop – a sudden deceleration will only place more weight on the damaged front tyre which can cause the car to veer dangerously to that side. If that happens the rim may grip the tarmac which can cause the car to flip.

Lower gears can be more effective than braking to reduce the speed in manual cars.


Back Tyre

Blowout’s on the rear tyres causes’ excessive drag which impacts on the car’s balance.

An imbalanced car will be difficult to steer straight.

To avoid spinning out, take your foot gradually off the accelerator.

Engage the lower gears as opposed to braking and bring to a slow and steady stop.

Tyre-Blowouts - what to do and what not to do

Tyre-Blowouts – what to do and what not to do