The government-approved consumer watchdog for the automotive industry, Motor Codes is urging motorists to ‘winter-proof’ their cars for safe winter driving and to help them avoid expensive repairs.
Bill Fennell, Managing Director, Motor Codes, said, “Winter doesn’t officially begin until 21 December this year, but there is no time like the present to ensure that antifreeze is topped up, tyres and brakes are working well and your windscreen is clear.
“If they follow our winter driving tips, their cars will be winter-ready – and this will make journeys safer for them, their passengers and other road users.”
1. Top up with antifreeze
Without adequate antifreeze, sub-zero temperatures can do untold damage to your engine.
Your manual will tell you the best type of antifreeze for your car and the amount you should use but never replenish fluids (oil, coolant, wiper fluid) straight after you’ve driven the car – wait until it’s cooled down.
2. Clear your windscreen
Spray, grit and slush can obscure your view and compromise your safety.
Make sure your wipers are working smoothly and that the washer fluid is always topped up.
Keep a supply of washer fluid, ideally mixed with de-icer, in the boot.
Other road-users need to be able to see you, so check that all your driving lights are working properly and wipe them clean once a week.
3. Keep your battery charged
Your car battery works harder during the winter months: the heating’s on full-blast, de-misters are working overtime and, because of the shorter daylight hours, headlights are on for longer.
As if that’s not enough, cold temperatures also reduce the battery’s capacity.
It’s important you know the health of your battery – the last thing you want is to be met by silence the next time you try to turn on the engine.
4. Check your tyres
Balding tyres are a safety hazard at any time, but in winter the risks of an accident are even greater.
Legally, the depth of the tread must be at least 1.6mm but, for peace of mind, 2-3mm is recommended.
You may even want to invest in a set of winter tyres, particularly if you live in a rural or hilly area.
5. Test your brakes
Roads are wetter and more slippery in winter, so it’s vital that your brakes are up to the task.
Ask your local garage to test your brake pads, discs and pipes, to be sure they are safe.
6. Protect your car body
Nothing ages your car body quicker than exposure to the grit and salt sprinkled on the roads in the winter.
Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to keeping corrosion at bay, so wash and wax your car before the harsh weather sets in.
If you have to park outside during the winter months, consider buying a good quality car cover.
7. Replace belts and hoses
Cold temperatures can weaken the rubber belts and hoses under your car’s bonnet, and you don’t want something to snap out on the road on a cold winter’s night.
Although in most cases they get checked at service time every 30,000 miles or so, it’s always a good idea to let a mechanic give them a once-over before the first cold snap arrives, as there may be potential weak points susceptible to the cold weather.
8. Keep the tank topped up
In sub-zero temperatures, your fuel-line may freeze up meaning that your car won’t start.
You can prevent this simply by making sure your fuel tank is always more than half-full.
9. Keep an emergency kit
Be prepared in case you break down and find yourself stuck out in the cold.
Your kit should include boots, blankets, torch and batteries, first aid kit, jump leads, shovel, road atlas, de-icer and sunglasses.
10. Get your car serviced
You can address many of these ‘winter-proofing’ tips in one go by paying a visit to your local garage.
They can carry out special winter checks, including ensuring tyres are in good condition, mechanical parts are lubricated and essential lubricants topped up.
Remember that keeping up-to-date with the recommended service schedule will help keep your car in good condition all year round – and protect any warranty.
Visit the Motor Codes garage finder by selecting ‘more details’ below to search for a local garage to help give you peace of mind.