Frosty mornings, icy gales and snow are a sure sign that winter is coming. Hazardous and slippy, the colder months bring more challenging driving conditions and sometimes impassable roads.
Getting your vehicle in tip-top condition and making sure it is safe to drive is essential for any winter journey.
Keeping your car roadworthy when the seasons are tougher isn’t impossible. What’s more, there is a lot you can do yourself to save time and your hard-earned cash at the garage.
Here’s our guide to keeping your vehicle afloat through the winter months:
With potholes running rife through well-worn roads, as well as navigating icy conditions, it’s never been more important to check your tyres.
Illegal tyres can earn you a £10,000 fine and 12 penalty points on your license.
Regularly checking your tyre tread depth and making sure they are holding their pressure will minimise risk. If your tread depth is below 1.6mm, you will need to upgrade your tyres before driving.
It’s worth considering a set of winter tyres as they have deeper treads and better traction on loose surfaces and colder conditions. Handling the roads better, they are proven to stop five metres shorter than their all year round counterparts. With safer stopping capabilities and better grip, it’s worth the investment.
Living in the UK, you know that the winter brings shorter days and longer nights. So make sure all your lights are working. Having defective lights is not only unsafe, but it’s against the law.
Headlights, indicators, reverse light, number plate bulb – you’ve named it, now check it!
Ask a family member, neighbour or friend to make sure each light is working as you check. It’s usually as simple as replacing a bulb, so refer to your vehicle’s manual for guidance.
A vital bloodstream to your engine’s longevity is how regularly you check and change your oil. Using your vehicle’s dipstick, you can easily keep an eye on oil levels. Make sure to top up as needed and not to overfill the valve.
You should aim to change your oil and filter at least once a year to avoid engine damage.
Always stick to the correct type of oil for your motor too – cheaper doesn’t mean better. Your car’s manual will give you all the right information for getting the best oil.
Avoid damage to your car’s engine by getting a correct mix of anti-freeze and water. Without it, your vehicle may not last the winter months.
Top up your coolant when your engine is cold with a 50/50 mix (or as guided in your car’s manual.) It is recommended that the coolant protection level can go down to -25°C.
Wipers & washers
Make sure your washers, wipers and blades are all in good working condition. When operating, they shouldn’t leave any smears or streaks on your screen, and you certainly want to be able to see clearly while driving.
Top up your washing cavity with a fluid capable of reaching at least -15°C to keep your windscreen clear all year round.
Stopping safely on slippery and wet roads is vital in tougher conditions. You need to come to a safe stop without the hassle of sliding or delay.
Make sure to check out your brake pads, shoes, handbrake linkages, callipers and discs. If you don’t feel up to the job, some garages will offer a free brake test as part of their service.
Don’t trundle to a halt on the side of an icy road because you forgot to check the battery! During the colder months, your car’s battery is working harder than even to keep up with all the extra heater, demister and lights usage.
Cold weather also has a nasty habit of making batteries less efficient. So make sure your battery is well charged and roadworthy for any journey, no matter what the distance.
Not being able to start your car will delay your day and potentially cost you more money as you try and sort it out. Investing in a battery charger and a set of jump leads will give you peace of mind in the coming season.
Not convinced your battery has enough life left in it? Get your local garage to take a look. It might be worth replacing it before any significant damage can be done to the rest of your vehicle.
Investing a little bit of time ahead of the cold weather will keep your motor running for longer. Take a look and see what you can do. Don’t break the bank if you don’t have to!