As Jack Frost starts wreaking havoc overnight, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your trusty vehicle to ensure it remains trusty on the road in the winter months.
The cold can play havoc on any car, old or new, but if you keep the following top tips in mind then you should be breakdown free throughout the chilly spell.
Batteries are one of the most common failures over the winter months. When driving in the cold the electrics are the hardest hit as they are used more often, to keep the interior warm and for lights when the days get shorter.
The AA recommends that you avoid running electrical systems for longer than required so, for example, turn off the heated rear windscreen as soon as it is clear and don’t leave the fan blowing out hot air on a high setting unless you need to.
However, battery problems happen – batteries on average only last around five years – so it is a good idea to keep a charger in your car should yours fail. You can pick these up online, from suppliers such as Pure Drive Batteries, and this lets you get back on the road quickly without having to worry about jump leads and a obliging fellow motorist donating their car.
Antifreeze is essential to ensure your car runs smoothly and no damage is done to the engine. The time and cost of topping up your antifreeze is much less than the time and cost of having to take it to the garage on your day off. Checking your oil is at the correct level is also important, so when your car is cool get that bonnet lifted and have a look at the levels. Here’s a simple video guide, created by the AA, on how to check your car’s antifreeze levels.
Whilst driving in winter, road visibility can be significantly reduced so it is important that you check your lights are working regularly and that they are not covered in dirt from the salt and wet on the roads. You should also ensure your number plates are clear and easy to read at all times, or you could find yourself being hit with a fine whilst out and about.
Salt and dirt from the roads can also cause rust and damage to bodywork, so while the thought of going out into the cold to clean your car might not be the most appealing way to spend your Saturday morning, it is important that you do so.
If you wake up to find your car is frosted over in the morning always leave yourself an extra ten minutes to scrape the ice off and use de-icer to clear the windscreen. Never drive if you have a misted windscreen, leaving the blowers on for a couple of minutes should clear them quickly – your safety is more important than being punctual.
When it comes to tyres, tread is the most important thing to check and should be at least 3mm. You can check your tyre pressure easily with just a 20p and five minutes of your time, simply place the 20p coin in the tread groove and if you can see the outer edge still then the tyre’s tread is too low and needs changing. The lower the tread the longer your stopping distance when breaking, due to reduced grip on the road. Here’s a quick guide with images on how to check tread with a 20p coin to give you a better idea.
Keeping your car maintained in winter is of great importance and is reasonably easy to do. Breakdown companies recommend that you check your liquid levels anyway all year round so simply keep lifting the bonnet once a week to ensure everything is in order. Pay particular close eye to your antifreeze and keep a winter emergency kit in your car containing an emergency battery charger, de-icer and scrapers for those cold mornings.