With winter comes cold weather, and a sharp increase in the number of breakdowns. Yet many forget the importance of preparing their car for winter weather. Don’t be one of those people.
Here are the most important things to check for avoiding car trouble in winter:
Your car battery should be replaced every three to five years, but you should have it checked just before every winter season. Cold weather puts strain on worn out batteries and wet, icy conditions can mess up your electrics.
The status of your battery is indicated by the fluid level marked on the outside. If the level is low, add distilled water. Ask a garage to check the charging system and drain on your battery.
The colder the weather, the more your oil thickens. This can lead to polluting and overheating your car’s engine. Make sure your engine oil is specifically made to function in winter.
Check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick and keep it topped up.
As winter temperatures drop, so will your tyre pressure. The decrease in pressure will cause your tyres to wear out faster. Worn tyres will not perform in wet and icy conditions. Your owner’s handbook will tell you the correct pressure for your tyres.
Don’t hesitate to replace old, worn-out tyres. Consider a deeper tread depth if you’re going to be doing a lot of driving in winter. Although the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, for winter a tread depth of 3mm is advised to give you extra traction and grip.
Your wiper blades won’t last forever, so check them for splits and cracks. Confirm they are still capable of clearing your screen. You should replace them often, at least once a year.
Make sure your wipers aren’t stuck to the windscreen before setting off. If the weather is cold, don’t have your wipers set on ‘automatic’ because if they’re stuck, you could blow a fuse the moment you turn on the ignition.
If your wipers are stuck, use a de-icer (never hot water) to free them. Another good tip is to cover your windscreen with a sheet to keep ice and snow off it, and wrap your wipers in the sheet to stop them sticking to the screen.
Check your screen wash level and top it up with a quality screen wash additive which is effective to at least -15°C. Without such an additive, your screen wash can freeze solid in the tank. Don’t make the mistake of topping up your screen wash with water – water will quickly turn to ice in freezing conditions.
The winter weather may freeze your door locks. Don’t try and force your door open. You can damage the locks, making it impossible to lock your car. You might also damage the door seal causing leaks.
Before you open your car door, all you need to do is to give a squirt of WD-40 in the locks and dab some Vaseline or silicone polish on the door seals.