Winter car maintenance – reduce the chances of breaking down
Our cars face certain challenges in winter that they don’t have to face at other times. Things freeze, car parts and road surfaces included. Road conditions are worse than usual, throwing up a mess that can obscure vision making it harder to see and be seen.
Here are a few tips to help keep you motoring through the winter months:
A well maintained battery
Check your car battery regularly. The cold and damp weather can play havoc with batteries and a flat battery is one of the most common causes of a breakdown call out.
If you’re waiting for someone, the temptation is to turn the key enough to get the heaters blasting and the stereo on but be careful. Without the engine running, you’re using the power of your battery. Obviously for short periods, with a new battery this should be fine – but be careful in winter periods when the strain on the battery may be higher.
Batteries don’t usually last for more than about five years so with winter approaching, it might be worth investing in a new one if yours is nearing the end of its life.
Make sure all your car lights are in good working order. Additionally, wintery conditions often give rise to a great deal of dirty spray off the road surface that can coat and dim our car lights. Give them a good wipe to aid visibility.
You should check your oil level all year around anyway. Perhaps with the risk of being broken down in bad weather, with accompanying longer nights, it’s even more important than ever to keep your oil topped up.
Consider antifreeze for radiators
Some older car models may require antifreeze added to the radiator to prevent the cooling system freezing. However, more modern vehicles have longer lasting antifreeze already added to the system which often shouldn’t be mixed with traditional antifreeze solutions.
It’s better to ask a mechanic or your manufacturer if you do have any doubts.
Hopefully it’s a no brainer, but make sure you can see before you drive off! It’s tempting when you’re under time pressure to set off with the windscreen still partially frozen or steamed up. Resist the temptation as you’re much more likely to have an accident – and be held liable for it.
Make sure your windscreen wash bottle is kept full and that it contains some antifreeze. Just like your lights, your windscreen will get covered in muck from road surfaces which can reduce visibility very quickly.
It’s also a good idea to make sure your wiper blades are in good condition to keep your vision clear.
Some people, particularly those living in colder or more rural areas, may want to fit their car with winter tyres. These come with deeper tread patterns and are better equipped to deal with snow and ice.
If you don’t want to invest in these, you should still make sure that you have adequate amounts of tread left on your tyres. Though the minimum the law requires is 1.6mm, the AA recommends at least 2mm and preferably 3mm. Wet, wintery conditions increases the risk of aquaplaning, the more tread you have available, the less likely this is to happen.
As well as good tread levels, make sure you check your tyre pressures frequently and that it conforms to your manufacturers recommendations.