As the UK braces itself for cold weather, it’s important to make sure that your car is going to be able to handle the elements and keep you and your passengers safe.
When driving in cold weather, drivers are often faced with a whole range of driving conditions, so it is important that you do some checks before setting off. But what should you be checking?
For older cars winter can be a tough time for your battery, and according to AXA batteries were the main cause of winter breakdowns in the UK in 2016-2017. It may be worth giving your battery a full recharge if it hasn’t been driven in a while or has had some problems before.
If you suspect that it is well past its prime, then new batteries are relatively cheap to buy and easy to fit for extra peace of mind.
Whilst most drivers fear ice and snow in the winter months, it’s important to remember that wet conditions caused by rain and melting ice or snow can be just as hazardous.
It is important in all conditions that your tyres have plenty of grip, so you should be checking that your tread isn’t too low, that your tyre pressure is correct and that there’s no bulging or damage to your tyres. It’s a good idea to get in to the habit of checking your tyres every week, your tyre pressure can be found in your car’s user manual and tyre tread should always be above 1.6mm.
The coolant/antifreeze in your car is designed to protect your engine regardless of the weather conditions, so it’s important to check that you’ve got enough. When checking your coolant/antifreeze level, it should be within the min and max marker on the reservoir, but if you are unsure your local garage will be able to check this easily for you.
Screen wash is a must have for all weathers, keeping your front and rear windows clear from dirt and rainfall. In the winter you will be using screen wash at a more rapid rate due to the extra spray from the roads which is often made up of mud and salt from gritting. When topping up screen wash in the winter, choose one that will work at low temperatures so that it doesn’t freeze in the reservoir.
With all the extra spray, your wiper blades will get a good workout during winter. To maintain a good level of visibility at all times you should check your wiper blades for signs of wear and tear and give them a clean regularly to give them the best chance of clearing your windscreen.
Whilst many of us will use our lights all year round and at various points in the day, in winter they are used more often due to the change in how much daylight we are getting.
As well as checking the lights you rely on most often, like your full and dipped beams, it’s important to check all the other bulbs in your car as these are vital for letting other drivers know what your movements are. Fog lights should also be checked for the instances that you will need the extra visibility.
Oil and fuel
When driving in winter, always try to keep your fuel above a ¼ of a tank. Not only will you hopefully have enough fuel to keep your car warm or make it to a petrol station if you can’t make it to your destination, but keeping your tank topped up will also lessen the strain on your fuel pump and fuel lines.
When fuel gets low your fuel pump can come under more strain, which can cause early failure. Plus, in cold weather condensation in the tank can also freeze and cause issues with the fuel pump.
The engine oil in your car is important for helping your car run efficiently, and without it you are at risk of breaking down. So this should be checked before setting off on a long journey.
Keeping your car maintained during winter is important to avoid breaking down, but by checking these things you have a greater chance of staying warm and safe during the cold weather.