Tips to prepare your car for winter
It’s important to keep your car well maintained throughout the year, but this becomes even more vital during the winter months.
There are a few items that Auto Express suggest you should pay extra attention to:
Check your car battery
Cold and damp weather is a battery killer. There’s little worse than the mechanical groan when you turn the key caused by a dying car battery. If your battery is struggling to start your car, the chances are it’s on its way out.
If you can’t start your car, you can use a set of jump leads, or remove the battery and charge it indoors. This can be complex, not least because car batteries are heavy. You should always refer to the owner’s manual.
Otherwise go for a new battery.
Antifreeze, as its name suggests, stops the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing. To test the effectiveness of your antifreeze, you’ll need an antifreeze tester, which cost about £5. To use it, unscrew the coolant reservoir cap under the bonnet, after checking the engine is cold.
Lower the tube into the coolant and squeeze the rubber bulb on the end to suck some antifreeze inside the tester. You can then read the freezing point of the antifreeze using the scale inside the tester. Replace the antifreeze in the car’s system and replace the cap.
Check screen wash
Wintery weather is frequently wet, meaning you’ll spend lots of time using your windscreen wipers. There’s a high risk of them smearing grime across the windscreen if your screen wash bottle is empty.
Check exterior lights
It sounds simple, and it is. The days are shorter and the weather is worse during the winter months, making maintenance of your exterior lights an important aspect of any winter car checklist.
Check and clean your lights regularly. The salt and dirt can quickly build-up, reducing visibility at night as well as during periods of snow, fog and rain. Carry extra bulbs in case of a failure.
If you drive frequently in winter, then consider buying a set of winter tyres but if if you don’t want the extra cost of winter tyres, checking the tread depth of your existing tyres is important. The legal limit is 1.6mm, but having more than this can dramatically improve steering and braking. Also check your tyre pressures regularly.
Winter car equipment
Carrying an emergency kit with you at all times through the winter might seem a bit extreme – but if you ever find yourself stranded you’ll be glad of it. We recommend:
- • A mobile phone and charger
- • A hazard warning triangle
- • Hi-visibility vest
- • A first aid kit
- • De-icer and a scraper
- • A shovel
- • A tow rope
- • Wellington boots
- • A torch
- • Warm clothes
- • Food and drink
And a decent set of car mats will not only protect your car’s carpets from wet or muddy feet, but can be wedged under the driven wheels to get you moving.