Written by : sshields
Published on:: 20/12/2016
As temperatures plummet and we dig out our winter coats, it’s easy to forget that our cars need a little TLC as well during the winter months. In fact, the number of breakdowns can double during this time. Just a few minutes of basic winter car checks can see your motor through to spring.
Servicing your car is already an important method of keeping your car in good running order, even more so before the winter. Regular servicing and maintenance can prevent many of the problems associated with the cold snaps. Many garages offer free or discounted winter checks for you to take advantage of.
The cold weather can have a huge impact on your battery’s output, with the heaters and lights putting additional strain on it. If your car is struggling to start up, it’s advised to get it checked and replaced, if necessary; car batteries typically have a lifespan of 5 years. It’s handy to keep a pair of jump leads to help start your car with the help of another motor, but you can buy a jump starter pack if no one’s available to help, which would save the wait for a breakdown service.
Most modern car engines have a sealed cooling system so shouldn’t need topping up. The level should be within the minimum and maximum marks on the coolant tank. The coolant should be a 50/50 of water and antifreeze, but this can dilute over time, especially if you only add water to the tank, which can result in freezing and potential damage to the engine due to overheating. If you have your car regularly serviced, this fluid is changed.
It goes without saying the roads can be significantly icy during the cold spells, making driving conditions more dangerous. It’s recommended that your tyre depth is at least 3mm, compared to the legal minimum of 1.6mm, as they will have better grip. You could also look into having winter tyres fitted to prepare you for winter driving, as they provide better grip for the snow and slush.
Check out this video from Auto Express explaining winter tyres:
Less light means, of course, using your headlights more. Check that they are clean; a wipe down with a cloth should suffice, and make sure none are blown or cracked, as not only do they make you less visible, it’s also an MOT failure. Don’t forget to check your full beam and fog lights as well.
It may be worthwhile giving your windscreen a good clean with some window cleaner. Not only will you see better, it will also give you the opportunity to spot any chips in the windscreen, which could turn into cracks if not checked by a garage or windscreen specialist. Check your wipers as well; run your finger down them to check for nicks and tears, as these reduce their effectiveness at cleaning your windscreen (also an MOT failure).
Whether you’re visiting family and friends during the festive season, or just have a long commute, make sure you’re prepared for winter driving. Check the weather, traffic news and safest routes before setting off. Even if you know your route, it can be handy to have a sat-nav with traffic alerts running to pre-warn you of upcoming incidents.
Make sure you clear your car of snow and de-ice your windows and door mirrors. Keep some antifreeze and windscreen wash handy too.
There is a range of winter car kits available, with the majority including the essential high-vis vest, snow shovel, torch and thermal blankets. It is also advised to carry snow grips for your shoes, non-perishable food and drink supplies, ice scraper, deicer, windscreen wash and, probably most importantly, a full charged phone.
Having full comprehensive breakdown cover is crucial during the winter months and will also give you that piece of mind that you won’t be stranded. Check your policy for what exactly you are covered for.
If you are a member of The Car People Friends, you can take advantage of discounted cover from the RAC. Click here to find out more.
You should ensure you have plenty of fuel in the tank in case of unexpected delays and diversions and also check the oil. Remember, many garages offer winter checks to ensure you’re ready to go for the winter months.