6 Steps To Prepare Your Car For Winter Weather
Winter weather can play havoc with the running of your vehicle if it is not properly maintained.
Statistics indicate that you are 27% more likely to experience a breakdown during the winter months, and 51% more likely to have issues relating to battery problems. Meanwhile, the expense of emergency repairs is costly, and in some parts of London, motorists may be looking at a price of up to £721 per breakdown.
With the cost of motoring ever rising, preventing vehicle faults is the most effective way of keeping costs down. But with 78% of motorists uncomfortable doing routine repairs on their vehicles, many people are spending their hard-earned money on issues that could easily have been avoided.
So, let’s now discuss some simple steps you can take to help prepare your car for the challenging winter months.
- Stay Up To Date With Servicing
All cars require regular servicing, and while how regularly you should get your car serviced depends on the model of your vehicle, a good rule of thumb is to get your car serviced every 12,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first.
Regular servicing and maintenance checks can help to diagnose and resolve issues before they cause further complications. In fact, according to the AA, up to half of winter-related car issues can be prevented with regular servicing and maintenance checks.
- Check Your Battery
If you’re having problems starting your car in cold weather, you are most likely experiencing issues with your car battery and may need to have it replaced.
Car batteries have an average life of around 5 years, but cold weather puts strain on the 12-volt battery, reducing the energy output. In the winter months, you are also more likely to use features such as heating and lights, which puts further pressure on the battery.
While you can try jump-starting your car for a quick fix, if your battery is struggling to start your car, you will likely need it to be replaced.
You can simply check your car battery by turning off the ignition and lifting the hood to reveal the battery. Connect a voltmeter to the battery with the red lead to the positive terminal, and the black lead to the negative terminal. A healthy battery should read between 12.4 and 12.7 volts.
- Top Up Antifreeze
Antifreeze is essential during winter months to prevent engine fluids from freezing. This can lead to the engine overheating, which can be an expensive issue to repair. Your engine coolant should be half water and half antifreeze. If you top up your car with water, and the coolant becomes diluted, it may freeze, causing a number of mechanical issues.
You can check the effectiveness of your antifreeze using an antifreeze tester. When the engine is cold, just undo the coolant reservoir cap found under the bonnet, insert the tube into the coolant, and take a sample of antifreeze.
- Check Or Replace Your Tyres
Tyres wear down over time, and when this happens, your car begins to lose its grip on the road, which may cause significant risks in icy or snowy weather. While generally tyres only need to be replaced when they reach 4/32 of an inch, in the winter months, they require more attention.
A study by consumerreports.org found that tyres began to decline in performance at just half-tread depth, with a 14% decline in snow traction. Worryingly, the study also found an 8% loss in hydroplaning resistance and a 7% loss in wet braking, though the impact of braking on ice was minimal.
This study shows that drivers need to be aware of the impact that cold weather may have on their car’s stability, and should consider switching to snow tires during the winter months.
- Check Screen Wash
Screenwash is used more frequently during winter months to clear mud and dirt from the windscreen, as well as during de-icing. Ensuring that your windscreen is clear is essential for visibility and safe driving. If your screenwash is empty, your wipers will stick to the windscreen, which may damage the wipers as well as smear dirt across your windscreen – impairing your view of the road as a consequence.
Screenwash will not freeze in low temperatures, and as such, the washer jets will not freeze, although they may get blocked if there is heavy ice or snow.
- Prepare For Emergencies
If your car does breakdown for any reason, and your engine or heating system does not work, it can be a health risk to be out in the cold for too long. Prolonged exposure to cold increases the risk of illnesses such as pneumonia and hypothermia.
As such, it is essential to keep an emergency kit in the back of your vehicle. This should include:
- A thermal blanket
- Warm clothing
- A torch and spare batteries
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Snow shovel
- Jump leads
- An emergency phone
- Spare essential medication
- Non-perishable food and drink
Want to protect your car from the challenging winter weather? Our 6 simple steps will help ensure your vehicle is ready for the colder conditions!