Is your car winter ready? Why is it important to service your car?
Winter can be tough, not just on you but also your vehicle. Freezing temperatures, rain, ice/snow and winds can put your vehicle through a hard time. But making sure that you carry out basic maintenance, can help with avoiding expensive bills, especially just after Christmas.
Read through these simple ways you can maintain your vehicle, to have a smoother winter.
Test your battery
Failed batteries are at fault for a lot of breakdowns. We have probably had it all happen to us, and it’s not fun. Battery problems can happen all of a sudden with no warning; unlike a tyre issue. But as the temperature drops outside, so can your battery. Usually, batteries have a 3-4 year lifespan, all depending on usage of your vehicle and the quality of the battery.
Remember these signs that your battery may die:
- Your engine takes time to start or maybe it doesn’t start.
- You’ve had to use jump leads a few times already.
- The check battery light has shown up.
- It is an old battery.
- You have dim lights and electrical issues.
Testing your tyres
Not only is it dangerous to be driving with worn types, but also illegal. You should aim to maintain your tyres all year round, but especially in the winter-time. This is down to road conditions usually being more harsh, with lots of rainfall and even snow.
Tyres have to meet the minimum tread depth of 1.6mm to comply with UK law. They recommend within winter-time to change tyres at 3mm to make sure you have a safe stopping distance. If you find that you drive a lot within winter or use uneven roads then you might want to consider opting for tyres designed for the winter season. These usually feature a unique tread and a larger percentage of natural rubber, this makes it easier for the tyre to grip the road.
Within winter there is more water, mud and grit on the roads, which leads to a spray back onto your windscreen. If you find that your wipers squeak or even smear, then you need new ones. When the rubber is worn this can lead to the metal being exposed, which isn’t good for your windscreen and can end up causing more damage.
Checking your wipers is a simple but effective job, you can either head to your local garage or teach yourself to install them. Also, making sure that you have screen-wash is an easy solution to keep your windscreen dirt-free.
If your vehicle has something wrong with it, like a broken brake light, then the police can pull you over and give you the notice to get it sorted within 14 days. But with darker nights and bad weather, having dim or broken lights can affect your view of the road, putting your life and others in danger.
Check your lights by getting someone you know to have a look whilst you break and have your lights switched on. Lights are simple to change but a local garage can also help you fit these. Additionally, maintain your headlights by keeping them free from dirt and salt; which you can use a simple damp cloth to fix the light up.
Top up engine coolant with antifreeze
Antifreeze stops the water in the engine’s cooling system from freezing, so having this topped up in the cold weather is extremely important.
There are a few symptoms to suggest that you may need a top-up:
- Poor fuel economy
- The heater isn’t working
- Engine temperature light has come on
- Your car’s temperature gauge is higher/lower than usual
- Testing your oil
Testing oil is an extremely easy test that you can do yourself but can prevent you from any unnecessary break downs or expensive engine damage. To test your oil level you need to make sure oil is between the minimum and maximum mark on your car’s dipstick and top up if necessary. If unsure check out RAC’s guide to check your car engines oil.
One last important step is to make sure that you actually have a breakdown cover, or maybe you need to renew it. Even if you have taken all the steps from this blog post and have got your car serviced, you still have the chance that your car might breakdown.
It’s important to be fully prepared for a potential breakdown, keeping warm clothes in the car or even a sleeping bag can help you, if there are snowy weather conditions. Most breakdown covers have deals if you are new, or a discount if you have been with them a while. So researching can help you out and keep you safe within the winter period.
Let’s touch base on a few essentials to keep within your vehicle, in case of a breakdown:
- Warm clothing or a blanket
- Sleeping bag
- Warning triangle
- Torch and spare batteries
- Ice scraper
- Food and drink