A guide to winter car maintenance
Icy roads, poor visibility and freezing temperatures: winter weather can be challenging for you and your car. However, carrying out some simple maintenance could help you be prepared and keep your car running smoothly, even in adverse conditions.
We’ve put together a quick checklist to help you avoid car trouble and stay safe on the roads during the winter months.
A flat battery is one of the most common causes of breakdowns during the winter months; mainly due to the increased use of lights, heaters and electric equipment, as well as freezing temperatures reducing battery productivity. Here are some tips for maintaining battery life:
- Only use heaters and lights if you absolutely need to
- Car batteries tend to last about 5 years. If your battery is older than that you should consider replacing it
- Don’t leave your car unused as the battery is less likely to fail if there’s a frequent charge running through it
- Make sure your battery is fully charged before you go on any long journeys
As the name suggests, anti-freeze prevents your car’s engine and radiator from freezing over and causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage.
- Use a half water, half anti-freeze mix for protection against freezing temperatures
- Regularly check levels as some types of anti-freeze need to be changed more often than others - check the car manual for what type to use
Tyre condition and quality are crucial to manoeuvrability, particularly during the winter months when temperatures drop and road conditions deteriorate.
- Check your tyre tread depth – experts recommend 3mm during winter and no less than 2mm all year round
- Check tyre pressure every week during the winter, making sure it’s at the correct level (you can find this in your car’s manual)
- Letting out tyre pressure for added grip is a myth - this isn’t effective and can be dangerous
Clearing your windscreen is a must in adverse weather, even if this means getting up 10 minutes earlier to de-ice the car.
- Remove any loose snow from the roof to stop it from falling onto the windscreen
- Repair small cracks or chips immediately as they could grow during adverse weather conditions
- Keep de-icer and a scraper in the car for mornings when the windscreen has iced over
- Turn on the air conditioning while de-icing the windscreen to prevent it fogging up
- Check the screen wash reservoir is full as you may need it more regularly during the winter
With shorter days, longer nights, and poor visibility – it’s crucial that your lights are in full working order during the winter months.
- Double check that all bulbs are working and change any that look dimmer than usual
- Keep spare bulbs in the car
- Clean the lenses to get rid of any dirt or snow
- Keep lights on at all times, regardless of the weather conditions or time of day
Stopping distances increase significantly when the roads are icy or snowy, so it’s important that you check your brakes.
- Check for any rattling or squeaking as this could mean your brakes need attention
- If they feel soft underfoot it could mean that they are worn and need to be repaired
- Check for a grinding noise; this means that your brake pads may need replacing
Emergency Survival Kit
It’s a good idea to always keep an emergency kit in your car in case you break down, or just for peace of mind. Here’s a number of items you should think about keeping in your kit:
- Jump leads
- Torch with batteries
- High-visibility vest
- A blanket
- Phone charger
- First aid kit
Preparing your car for winter weather won’t take long, and a few small checks will reduce the chance of you spending time on the side of the road waiting for help.
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