The season of ice and snow is upon us, and even if it is unseasonably mild, you know that at some point winter will come. When it does arrive it will do so without much warning. Having your car winter ready means being prepared for everything the season can throw at you. At this busy time of the season ‘cold’ car maintenance may not be at the top of your ‘to do’ list. But you are going to expect the most from your car at this taxing time of year, so here are some great tips to help you prepare.
Get a deep clean done
Consider it to be a gift to your car! A good valet now may seem to be a little self-defeating. After all, as soon as you hit the road, you’ll be getting your car all dirty again. But a good valet is not just about shiny showroom looks. It is about clearing away toxic dirt from your paintwork, ensuring that bigger problems do not begin. A good wax will help protect your car from corrosion. A serious steam clean around wheels and arches can also show up any likely problems that have been concealed by dirt.
Every driver and car owner will know how misted up windows can affect vision and safety. The problem is compounded at this time of year with moisture and cold. Getting clearer windows is all about having them cleaned with a good quality window polish. The difference will be amazing in terms of clarity and it will be much easier to keep your windows clear.
Under the bonnet
This is where the mechanicals really count. If you are the type of car owner who rarely ventures here, this could be a good time to start. You could always just book a service, but get to know how your car needs to be looked after. You’ll save money and have a better motoring experience. You should be checking oil levels all year round, so ensure that you have topped up between the two markers on the dipstick. Make sure you are using the correct type of oil for your vehicle.
With freezing temperatures on the horizon, you’ll need to have antifreeze in your cooling system. Ice expands and can wreck your car engine. Antifreeze needs to be a part of your winter check up and ensure it is added in the correct proportions. While you are here, check all your fluid levels and top up as appropriate. A weak car battery is often the first victim of a cold snap. Ensure your battery is well connected and is in good condition.
This is a crucial area to be aware of. Obviously, tyres need to be kept inflated at the correct pressure. This is particularly true if you are loading the vehicle heavily and going on longer journeys this season. Make it a weekly habit to check tyre pressures. You should also be aware of the condition of your tyres. The tread should not be worn and at least a few millimetres deep.
This could be a great time to consider your winter tyre options. Winter tyres are much more suited to damp, cold and wet conditions. If fact they can increase your braking distance by up to 50%! Get a mobile tyre fitting service to come to your home or office to undertake the change.
What to carry with you
When real winter conditions strike, it pays to be prepared. Make sure you have these in your boot or trunk when you travel.
If you are venturing into high altitudes then carry snow chains. This can make the difference between a getting to your destination or having to abandon a journey. Ensure you have a spade or shovel. If you get stuck, this can help you dig out and get you back onto firmer ground. It’s a good idea to be carrying an eco-friendly de-icer as well as a blanket or two or even a sleeping bag. Getting caught in a snow storm will be no fun without some way of keeping warm.
Finally it pays to see and be seen. Make sure all lights on your car are in working order and carry spare bulbs with you. Know how to fit these. This is a steep learning curve in the dark at night. Most people will have phones with them so it is easy to call for assistance if you need to. Make sure your phone is charged up before your journey. Invest in a separate flashlight and torch. A flashing hazard facility can be useful to warn other vehicles if you have inadvertently stopped. A hazard triangle is another great tool for being visible.
Be safe and be seen this winter and have an enjoyable motoring experience.