six ways to prepare your car for winter
As temperatures begin to drop and driving conditions worsen, winter can be a perilous time of year for motorists. Fewer hours of daylight combined with ice and snow means that accidents and breakdowns are much more likely to happen during the colder months. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do which will help you minimise the risk of getting into a dangerous situation over the winter season.
get your car serviced
You should be getting your car serviced on a regular basis anyway, but getting one right before winter comes around is wise. Low temperatures can cause all sorts of problems for cars so a full service will ensure that any existing issues are fixed in advance.
check car battery
Darker days and colder temperatures mean that a lot of your cars battery energy will be directed towards your headlights and heater so avoid putting any extra strain on it by getting it checked and serviced first.
Check the overall condition; tread depth and pressure of your tyres, as this will affect the steering and braking power of your car. Depending on where you live, it might be worth changing your tyres from regular ones to winter ones which have a greater grip to keep you from skidding over icy roads.
top up engine coolant with antifreeze
Ordinarily, engine coolant should be a half and half mix of plain water and antifreeze. The reason being is that in the summer, the water in your cars radiator system won’t boil or evaporate and in the winter, it won’t freeze. Often, people will top up their engine coolant with plain water during the rest of the year meaning that the antifreeze agent will become diluted and less effective, so topping it up is a simple yet important step.
give your car an overall clean
Your windscreen, wiper blades and all lights should be given a good clean. Rain and snow can often leave mineral deposits and general dirt sitting on your car, which may impair your vision or brightness of your headlamps if not cleaned properly. At the same time, check for dead bulbs or any chips in your windscreen, as these can significantly worsen in colder weather. If necessary, fill up your screen wash dispenser as well.
carry a winter breakdown kit inside your car at all times
Just in case you ever break down or get stuck in snow and ice, it’s a sensible idea to keep items such as a small shovel, a torch, spare warm clothes, a hi-vis jacket, non-perishable food and drink, a windscreen scraper and de-icer fluid inside your boot at all times. You may also want to keep a spare phone charger in your car as well so in any event that you are stuck, you can contact someone.
other things to consider
It may sound obvious but make sure that your fuel tank is always filled up to at least a quarter of its capacity, there’s no worse time of year to be getting stranded.
If you are unsure how to check your tyres, oil, water, engine coolant levels or anything else yourself, then most garages will offer full winter services that specifically check whether your vehicle is suitable for winter driving.
Lastly, a bit of planning ahead and common sense will go a long way. Safe driving!