Written by : Saffron Wilson
Published on:: 23/11/2018
With winter fast approaching, you’re going to be relying on your car more than ever,
which means keeping your car in tip-top condition during these colder months is vital! Not properly maintaining your car can cause potential safety issues, and with icy roads bound to be rife, it’s better to be prepared! So, what are the simple things that you can do in order to get yourself through winter safely and without the extra headache of a malfunction?
What’s the difference? Well, to be honest – not that much. If you pick something up which says ‘Coolant’, you can pop that straight into your cooling system, but if it says ‘Antifreeze’, this is the concentrated version. You shouldn’t put this into the cooling system directly – it will need to be mixed with water first.
Anti-freeze does what it says on the tin. It stops the fluids in your engine freezing during low temperatures, which in turn could expand and ultimately damage the engine. What some of you may not know is that antifreeze is also responsible for keeping your engine from overheating when it is on the move. Make sure you to have a look at your cars handbook for the right quantities of water and anti-freeze before you top-up. Or if you’re unsure, drop into one of our service centres on site.
Tyres make a world of difference depending on the weather. In the summer, temperatures are higher, and the ground is likely to be a drier. As a result, summer tyres are more solid. This allows for their grooves to effectively collect water and divert it outwards to reduce the risk of aquaplaning.
Winter tyres are a whole different kettle of fish! Tyres in winter are a lot softer, so they can be flexible when it gets icy. The tread is designed in such a way that it actually interlocks with snow and ice, improving grip both on the move and when you are stationary.
Whether you’re going to change your tyres or not, you need to ensure that the tread on all 4 of your tyres is at least 1.6mm deep – that’s the law. If your tread is any less, then it can have serious implications to your handling and traction when on the road!
In the cold, a car engine must draw more energy from its battery in order to power up. Which is fine… if you have an optimal battery under the bonnet. The problem is, car batteries don’t like the cold, so it will have to work much harder to provide the engine with the necessary power.
To combat a potential non-start, ensure you get your car’s electrical system checked before the real cold hits, and make sure you include checking the battery and alternator.
If you don’t have time to check the entire system, you can check your battery by using a voltmeter. Your battery should be fine if you get a reading of at least 12.4 volts.
If you’re only doing frequent short drives during the winter, you may want to think about hooking your car up to a battery charger. Driving less than a mile isn’t enough for the engine to top-up the battery with charge, so either take a longer route or invest in a charger!
Check your windscreen for any imperfections, chips and cracks before the icy season hits. When water gains access to these cracks and it freezes, it will expand, causing cracks to grow or even shattering the windscreen.
The same goes for your windscreen wipers. These need to be in tip top condition to get you through winter safely. They’ll battle with snow, ice, sleet, grit, salt and lots more in an effort to maintain your visibility – and you’ll use them (along with screen wash) a lot more in the winter too.
When you’re driving in the snow, the last thing you want is to breakdown. The roads are treacherous, and you might not get help as quickly as you hope. In the case where this does happen, you’ll find the experience a lot easier, comfier and quicker if you have a breakdown kit with you. The RAC have compiled the essentials for winter driving here: https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/winter-driving/Winter-breakdown-kit-checklist/
But if you want a quick rundown….
The best practice for driving in heavy winter conditions is to stay at home. Only venture out if the journey is really necessary. If it is essential for you to make a trip, make sure to let people know where you are going, in case you need contacting. Overall, the main advice is to take your time and stay warm!