With those lazy summer road trips a distant memory, and the colder months quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about winter maintenance to ensure your motor makes it through those harsh seasonal temperatures. The car experts at Design 911 have listed 10 things to prepare before hitting the road over winter.
1. Service your car
It’s a well-known fact that the cold can cause many problems to cars, however many of these issues can be preventable if the car gets regular servicing and maintenance checks. If you think your car might be due a service, it’s better to get it done sooner rather than later and before the colder weather approaches.
2. Top up engine coolant with antifreeze
With the weather dipping below freezing in the winter months, it’s important to make sure the fluid levels in your car are topped up and contain the correct dilution of anti-freeze. Anti-freeze provides protection to your engine over the winter months from extreme temperatures. If the fluid in your engine were to freeze, this could cause serious damage and cracking to the engine. You always want to make sure your engine coolant is 50% antifreeze and 50% water, however in winter it’s good to add a little more anti-freeze to ensure your engine is fully protected.
3. Check the battery
The battery should be at the top of your winter check list, during the winter months they suffer from the cold temperatures which reduces the output- whilst the increased use of the heater, lights and blower will put it under even more strain. Batteries have a life expectancy of five years, so if you feel it might be time to change it or having problems with it its best to get it checked out or replaced.
4. Check your tyres
Before the winter hits, it is essential to check your tyres to ensure they are in good condition for the icy and wet conditions, this is mainly as the tyres are key to both steering and breaking. For checking the tyres pressure and tread depth, it is recommended to have a minimum 3mm depth during winter compared to minimum of 1.6mm, as this will give a much better grip. It may also be worth looking into changing from summer to winter tyres as these also offer grip in snow, slush and ice.
5. Wash your windscreen and wipers
Prior to winter its best to just check over your windscreen for any hidden chips that may be hidden in the screen, as these can grow in the cold weather. It’s also worth giving your wind screen wipers a good wipe to ensure they will be able to fully clean any snow or debris off your windscreen when your own the road. It’s best to clean them inside out and top up your screen washer fluid with some antifreeze.
6. Carry a winter car breakdown kit
It’s always a good idea to have a winter car break down kit in your car just in case you get stuck at any point whilst waiting for help. You should try to make sure you have a shovel, blanket, torch, hi-visibility vest, screen wash, scraper, de-icer and snow grips for your shoes. It’s also an idea to ensure your mobile phone is fully charged and carry a charging cable in your car as having a working phone is invaluable when you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.
7. Check exterior lights
With the nights getting darker in the winter, it’s important to ensure all exterior lights are working fully to ensure your visibility is clear and to prevent any accidents. The salt and dirt can cause a buildup, these reduce visibility at night as well as during bad weather conditions such as snow, fog and rain. It might be worth also carrying extra bulbs just in case the worse happens.
8. Check screen wash
It’s really important to ensure your screen wash is topped up fully before you head off on a long journey, this is because the weather in winter tends to be much harsher with more precipitation so ensuring you have the right amount of wash so the wipers can work effectively is imperative. Otherwise you will be left with a grimy windshield which will decrease your visibility of the road and drivers.
9. Examine belts and hoses
To ensure your car is extra safe and fit for yourself and passengers, it’s important to ensure all the seatbelts work and don’t need replacing at all. This can be something that is easily forgotten however it is highly important to check before you plan on a family outing or long drive, especially when the weather is much harsher and black ice occurs on the roads.
10. Know what to do if you get stranded
It can be quite a scary experience when your car breaks down and you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere. Ensure you have your winter breakdown kit which was in an earlier point, if it is dark ensure your hazard warning lights are on, stay away from any moving traffic, it is also imperative that you have a phone and the number of a breakdown service such as the AA and that you are covered for this service.