How To Prepare Your Car For Winter
Winter weather is hard on your vehicle and its engine. Here are some tips to help you make sure it is up to the challenge. With winter approaching, a few minutes’ maintenance could see your car through the worst the weather has to offer.
Check Your Oil
Being low on oil can cause a breakdown or lead to catastrophic engine damage at worst. You should check your oil level is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick and top up if necessary. For the type of oil you need to use, you should refer to your owner’s handbook or speak to your local dealer.
Install Winter Tyres
Use four matched winter tyres that carry the mountain/snowflake winter tire symbol. And with tread no less than 3.5 mm, even when driving a 4 X 4 vehicle. Tyres marked with an M+S (Mud and Snow) are also acceptable. But they do not provide the same degree of performance as a mountain snowflake tire in severe winter conditions. Winter tyres improve driving safety by providing better traction in snow, slush and icy conditions. Check for wear before installing the tyres and check tyre air pressure frequently, as it decreases in cold weather. Check your tyres for general wear and tear, splits of bulges, and more importantly, tread depth.
Get Your Car Serviced
If your car is due a service, get it done before the winter. While the cold can cause lots of problems for cars, up to half of them could have been prevented by regular servicing and maintenance checks. It’s also a great time to take advantage of discounted ‘winter car checks’ offered by some garages.
Check Your Coolant
Check your car’s coolant level. The last thing you need is a frozen engine or for your car to overheat. Although it’s a sealed system and shouldn’t need to be topped up. You should always double check, especially before a long journey. Check your coolant levels when the engine is cold and look in your handbook for the correct coolant and mix to use should you need to top it up.
Keep Your Fuel Tank Topped Up
This will help to avoid condensation and moist air inside the tank, which can cause fuel lines to freeze and other serious issues.
Check your lights because they are essential for you to see and be seen. It’s important to make sure not only that you can see where you’re going but also that other drivers can see you. Walk round your car and make sure all lights are working and that they are free from dirt and grime. Lights do get extremely dirty during the winter months so clean them on a regular basis. It’s a good time to check the battery terminals are clean and tight. You can clean corrosion off with hot water and apply petroleum jelly.
Check The Battery
If your car struggles to start and the engine ‘labours’ when you turn the key you should get it checked out by a garage. If your battery is over four years old it may be getting to the end of its life and it could let you down.
During the winter months it suffers from both cold temperatures reducing the output. And the increased use of lights, heater and blower, which place it under additional strain.
Cars need to be serviced regularly to keep them running well and this becomes even more important during the colder months. Check your car’s handbook or contact your dealer to find out the recommended service intervals. If it hasn’t been serviced recently, consider booking it in for a service ahead of winter. Not only could a service prevent problems. A reputable garage should be able to spot issues on the horizon and give you advice to prevent a breakdown.