How to prepare a car for winter: 10 things to check
As winter approaches, remember to give your car a little extra TLC. Harsh weather conditions can take their toll on you and your vehicle, so it's important to do regular maintenance checks. By doing this, you'll help ensure that you - and your car - stay safe on the roads all season long.
Postponing maintenance on your car is never a sound decision, but the risks associated with deferring servicing are often more severe during cold weather.
Below are 10 checks you should perform to ensure you don't break down this winter.
Keeping your oil level topped off is crucial to maintaining your vehicle. If it drops too low, you will see a small oil can symbol light up on your dashboard. Leave it for too long and you may damage your engine severely.
Frequent oil changes are necessary for your car to function optimally. To figure out how often you should change your oil, check your owners’ handbook. Some cars have a digital service interval indicator which will let you know when it's time for another change.
Your car's battery is under more pressure during winter. In fact, dead batteries are one of the primary reasons for breakdowns in cold weather.
Did you know that cold weather can zap your car battery? It's true! The frigid temperatures cause a battery to have a harder time producing and storing an electrical charge. So, if you regularly do short trips or if your battery is already on the older side, experts recommend charging it once a week to reduce the likelihood of being stranded by the roadside.
If you notice any of the following three things - your car taking a while to start, the battery warning light being illuminated, or the interior lights dimmer than usual - then you may need to get a new battery.
Your car's cooling system needs a mixture of water and antifreeze in order to function. The liquid travels through the engine block and prevents it from overheating while you drive, as well as stops it from freezing in sub-zero temperatures.
Over time, filling the radiator with only water can dilute the mixture, which may then cause the coolant to freeze. Get the system flushed out every two years and be sure to keep it filled with a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze between each change.
Although we may not think about it often, washer fluid is important to keep an eye on. Not all cars have a sensor that will tell you when the fluid is low, so checking regularly under the hood is essential to ensure that your reservoir doesn't run dry.
Proper windscreen washer fluid will not freeze as easily as water and will also clean your windscreen more effectively.
Outside the car:
Because you don't use your wipers often, you might not notice when they start to wear down and have trouble effectively clearing water off your windshield. Wiper blades are made of rubber, which means that They can slowly deteriorate even if they're not being used very frequently. It's a good idea to replace them once a year, as well as visually inspect them regularly for any tears or damage along the rubber strip.
Your car's braking and grip levels significantly drop when the tread depth falls below 2-3mm, which is lower than the minimum legal depth of 1.6mm. So, it's best to have your tyres replaced once they reach this point.
If you're driving on terrain that is especially muddy or slushy, it's best to have tyres with deeper tread. Winter tyres aren't required in the UK, but they are recommended if you're straying from roads that are regularly maintained or traveling into an area where snowfall is common.
Summer tyres perform optimally in warm weather, but all-season tyres are a good trade-off that can be used year-round. They will give you an added level of protection during severe winter conditions. If your car has a spare tyre, ensure it is inflated and that you have packed a jack and wrench in your vehicle.
Regularly checking and aligning your headlights is a good preventative measure, especially during the winter months when daylight hours are shorter. Knowing when to use your lights is also crucial for safety.
It's important to keep your headlight covers clean so you can see clearly when driving. You can use a headlight cleaner kit to restore them if they start to get murky or milky. If your car has a headlight washer system, make sure it's working correctly. And don't forget to check that your brake lights and indicators are also in good condition. It's always a good idea to carry a spare set of bulbs with you, just in case.