The days have gotten shorter, the nights have gotten longer and it has definitely gotten colder, this can only mean one thing, winter is coming. It is very easy to take your car for granted, but even the most modern of cars can struggle in winter. However, there are many things you can do to combat this and help to keep your car running smoothly, even in the coldest of climates.
Check your tyres
Slippery roads are a certainty around the U.K in winter. They are extremely dangerous as most of the time you can’t see how bad they are until it’s too late. To prevent ever losing control of your car on a cold, icy road you must check the amount of tread you have on your tyres before setting out. Experts agree that you should have a minimum depth of 3mm, although this is larger than is legally required, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Although the legal depth of tread is 1.6mm, it is worth bearing in mind that it takes an extra two car lengths (8 metres) to stop at 50 mph than if your tread was 3 millimetres. You should also check your tyre pressure. Although this will vary depending on the car and tyre, the recommended tyre pressure is usually between 30 and 35 PSI. If you are planning to do a lot of driving in winter then it might also be worthwhile you investing in some winter tyres or snow chains.
Always refill the radiator
It may sound a little obvious, but many of us are guilty of not topping up our car radiators enough. Keeping these topped up with antifreeze in the winter is incredibly important as it will stop the liquid in the cooling system from turning into ice. It is always a good idea to keep an extra bottle of this in your boot for emergencies.
This might sound strange, but during winter it’s hugely important to actually drive your car as an unused car seize up during the cold, the battery can go flat and mildew can build up on the interior. By using it when you can you can keep it warm and ensure the car will run smoothly whenever you need it.
Don’t rush to start your car
Starting your car during extreme cold can be a nervous moment, so many of rush it and turn the ignition on as soon as possible, even though this could potentially damage your car. However, it is worthwhile leaving the ignition on for approximately five seconds before activating the starter motor. This will allow fuel pumps time to pressurise and the car’s electrical system will have the chance to complete any diagnostics check first, saving the battery the extra stress of performing these tasks while it has to churn the engine over.
When your car is cold the engine oil takes longer to reach the moving parts and so revving the engine needlessly will increase wear rates, as well as wasting fuel. Never run the engine in an enclosed space, the exhaust gases are still poisonous even on the most modern of vehicles.
Find a good parking space
When the mornings are extra cold and there’s ice on the ground we all have that same nervous thought when first getting into our cars, “please start first time”. Well, to give your car the best chance of starting straight away you need to park it in a sheltered and preferably dry place. If you don’t have a car cover or sheltered area then try leaving your car in the lee of your house or beside a tall hedge. This will then help to protect it against the cold elements and reduce the chances of it not starting.
Check your battery
The cold and wet weather that winter brings is a complete battery killer. Although we have already discussed how to prevent your car from seizing up and not starting, it is still a good idea to test your battery before winter arrives. That way you already know if you need to invest in a new one and you won’t have any unwelcomed surprises later in the year. With the correct equipment you can actually check this yourself, otherwise you can take your car to a specialist where they can do this quickly.
In spring and summer many of us get away with just putting water in our windscreen washer, however, in winter it is worth switching this for a ready mixed or concentrated screen wash. This is because there is a much higher chance of your windscreen wipers smearing grime and dirt during winter. Water simply won’t get rid of this efficiently and not to mention screen wash has a lower freezing temperature too, meaning you won’t end up with frozen washer jets on a cold winter’s morning.
Check your exterior lights
During winter you will do much more driving in the dark, so be sure to always 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. It is always good to carry extra bulbs in case of a failure.
Check under the bonnet
During winter, it’s very easy for wet, dead leaves to find their way into your car and under your bonnet, blocking your interior air vents, so be sure to check for this before starting your journey. If the inside of your car becomes misty then make sure to switch on your air conditioning. This will help to both defog the interior and help to keep it in optimum condition.
Winter can be a dangerous time to drive in, so when you do have to get in your car make sure you have the following items ready if you need them:
- A hazard warning triangle
- Hi-visibility vest
- De-icer and a scraper
- Screen wash
- A shovel
- A mobile phone and charger
- A first aid kit
- A tow rope
- Warm clothes
- Food and drink
- Wellington boots
- A torch
Guest post brought to you by https://www.ledenleasing.co.uk