With winter fast approaching we thought we would share with you some handy tips that could be of assistance in both the general maintenance of your vehicle over winter and in reducing the risk of a breakdown, an event which unfortunately increases as the temperature drops and the challenging weather sets in. Let’s face it, a breakdown is not much fun at any time of the year, but in the winter months it can be particularly unpleasant with freezing temperatures, heavy rain, ice, high winds and snow to contend with. We want motorists to have as good an experience as possible behind the wheel, so we urge you to follow some essential maintenance to see your vehicle through to the spring.
Get your vehicle serviced
Cars need to be serviced regularly to keep them running well and this becomes even more important during the colder months. If your car is due a service, our advice is to get it done before the winter. While the cold can cause lots of problems for cars, according to the AA up to half of them could have been prevented by regular servicing and maintenance checks.
Check the battery
If your vehicle is struggling to start and your battery is over four years old, it may be coming to the end of its life and it could let you down – especially with the added demand in colder conditions from the electrical equipment like the lights and heater. Get a garage to check it out and don’t be one of the 400,000 battery related faults that the RAC are called out to deal with every winter!
Check the coolant level
You do not want a frozen engine or for your car to overheat, landing you with a large repair bill. Check your coolant levels when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the correct coolant and mix to use should you need to top it up.
Ensure your tyres are in good condition
Your tyres connect you to the road, so it is essential that they are in good condition for steering and braking. Check your tyres for general wear and tear, cracks, splits or bulges, and more importantly, tread depth. 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. Also ensure that you have the correct pressure in your tyres – check your owner’s handbook for the correct inflation levels.
Clean and test your lights
They are essential for you to see and be seen. Check that all lights, indicators and rear reflectors are clean and working properly with no cracks or blown bulbs. Lights get extremely dirty during winter so it’s best to do this regularly.
Attend to your windscreen and wipers
Give your windscreen a thorough clean inside and out – there’s more dirt on the roads during winter – and top up your screen washer fluid with antifreeze. Use a quality screen wash additive or pre-mix which is effective down to at least -15 degrees Celsius to prevent the fluid from freezing. Then check your wiper blades for splits and cracks. They do not last forever and will sometimes need replacing. It’s a good idea to cover your windscreen with an old sheet overnight to keep the ice and snow off and wrap the wipers in the sheet to stop them sticking to the screen.
In addition to the above, we would also advise you to keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in case of unexpected delays and check the oil. Carry a breakdown kit to include shovel, torch, blanket, hi-visibility vest, screen wash, food and drink supplies, scraper and de-icer. You will be glad you did!
If you are in doubt about any of the above, we are more than happy to assist you in making sure your vehicle is ready and raring to go for the coldest season of the year!