Winter Advice: Protect Yourself & Your Car
Cosy nights by the fire, Christmas lights and festive cheer…despite the long, dark evenings and chilly weather, winter can be a lot of fun. Not so for your car, though: the cold temperatures and harsh driving conditions make winter the toughest time of year for cars, and the season in which you’re most likely to encounter problems. Best Autocentres recommend some simple advice to make sure you don’t get caught out in the cold this winter.
1. Book in for a winter car service
As with everything in life, prevention is better than cure, and the time to start thinking about your car’s winter maintenance isn’t when the snow starts to fall – it’s back in the autumn, before the cold snap really starts to set in. By arranging to have your car serviced at the start of the season, you’ll be able to catch problems early, while there’s still time to fix them, and set your car up for the coming cold.
2. Check your battery & lights
The shorter hours of daylight in winter mean that many of us drive to and from work in the dark, making us use the lights and heater which puts extra strain on the battery. Remember lights are not only there to help you see, but also to help others see you so check they are working and keep them clean.
3. Check your tyres
Your tyres are your only contact with road and worn treads provide less traction and greater chance to slide. Everyone worries about their tyres in snow and ice but wet roads can be just as treacherous, as tyres aquaplane on a layer of water. The legal limit is 1.6mm, but most manufacturers and safety experts recommend changing them before they get that low.
4. Check wipers and washers
After the sun and heat of the summer wiper blades can become hard and brittle and can split or not fit flush to your windscreen. Washers should be topped up preferably with the addition of a screen wash which contains an anti freeze agent. The winter mud, salt and low sun, make it vital to keep your screen clean
5. Anti-freeze, Oil and Brake fluid
If the coolant inside your engine freezes, you’ll find yourself in big trouble. Antifreeze is important for the health of your engine even in the warmer months, but much more so in winter, so make sure you keep yours topped up. You should also check for leaks on your radiator and replace any hoses that look perished.
Your engine oil should be changed at least annually and if it hasn`t been done, now is the time to do it. Lower temperatures and dirty oil or filters will affect the rate at which the oil flows around the engine.
Brake fluid is an often neglected but vital element of your braking system.As it gets older it absorbs moisture which inhibits its effectiveness and lengthens your braking distances which are already longer in winter due to wet and icy roads.
6. Keep an emergency kit in the car
How many times have you left home in the morning in moderate temperatures, only to find yourself facing a blizzard on the way back home? Winter is a time of extremes, and even if you’ve gone through all of the checks above, keeping the following items in your vehicle will help give you additional peace of mind:
- De-icer and windscreen-scraper
Never leave home without them from November through to March!
- A shovel
You may only be driving as far as the office, but you could still find yourself having to dig your way out of the car park
- A torch
Remember those long, dark nights we mentioned? You’ll need this if you find yourself stuck on a country road (or even a dark city car park)
- A first aid kit and warm coat or blanket
If you’ve followed the advice above, you hopefully won’t be needing them, but it’s always good to be prepared