Preparing Your Car for Winter

The clocks going back at the weekend was a sure sign that winter is on the way, and with the nights getting longer and the days getting colder what can you do as a driver to prepare you car for the winter months?  Well, here are a few things that you might like to consider.

 

Check Your Car Battery

The cold and damp weather during winter can put a strain on your car’s battery. Cold weather can make it harder for an engine to start and turn over but also, as an driver of an electric vehicle will confirm will, lower temperatures have a negative impact on the power a battery can deliver. If you haven’t changed your car battery recently it could be drained and the cold weather means that you could have issues. Factor in the additional power drain of heaters and other electrical devices and you could soon have major problems if your battery isn’t in tip-top condition. If the battery struggles to provide enough power to start your car, it’s likely that it’s on its way out and you’ll need to replace it.

 

Keep Your Fluids Topped Up

Two of the most important things to consider during the winter months are your levels of antifreeze and screen wash.

Antifreeze. as the name suggests, is added to the water in your engine’s cooling system to stop it from freezing in extreme cold.  You can test the effectiveness of you antifreeze by using an antifreeze tester which is available for about £5. To use it, simply unscrew the coolant reservoir cap under the bonnet (ensuring the engine is cold first), lower the tube into the coolant and squeeze the rubber bulb on the end which will suck some antifreeze inside the tester.

Keeping your screen wash topped up is essential during the winter months as the weather is often wet, and this can draw up all of the dirt and road salt from the road surface directly onto your windscreen, making visibility very tricky.  You will be spending a lot of your time using your wipers in conjuction with your screen wash, so if your supple is empty you’ll be smearing all of that dirt across your screen instead of cleaning it off!

 

Check Your Exterior lights

The days are shorter and the weather is worse, so it’s common sense that you’ll be using your lights far more during the winter, which means that ensuring they are working and clearly visible is very important that this time of the year.

You shoulf check and clean your lights regularly. Road salt and dirt can quickly build up which will dramatically reducing the effectiveness of the lights which in turn will reduce your visibility to other road users. It’s best practice to keep your lights on in all sorts of weather during the winter as it helps you to be seen. It’s a good idea to have extra bulbs in case of a failure and it’s also a good idea to learn beforehand how to replace a blown bulb as you really don’t want to be attempting it for the first time on a cold, dark evening on the side of a busy road.

 

Check Your Tyres

With winter approaching, you should check your tyres for general wear and tear, cracks, splits or bulges, and most importantly, the depth of your tread.

Checking the tread depth of your existing tyres is important and although the minimum tread level is 1.6mm, during winter it’s advisable to have 3mm of tread on your tyres to help with traction and grip.

Your tyre pressure is also very important, so you should check to ensure that your tyres are inflated to the correct levels.  These levels can be found in your vehicle’s handbook.

If you are planning to drive a lot during the winter months it may be prudent to consider buying a set of winter tyres. They offer much improved grip when the temperature drops below seven degrees, they’re very effective in the snow and ice and they also perform better than summer tyres when conditions are wet. They can be expensive, but are well worth the investment for the additional safety they bring.

 

Get a Winter Car Check

If you car is due to have a service and you haven’t the time or will to check the above items yourself, it might be a good idea to get it done before the winter sets in.

A winter car check typically involves a mechanic looking at your tyres, battery, coolant and antifreeze, windscreen wipers, lights and oil. Many main dealers and high street car spares stores offer this service for a small fee.

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