As we head into the colder months, it’s time to start paying extra attention to your vehicle’s maintenance. Winter conditions can be hard on cars, so doing a little work to prepare your car for winter can help you avoid expensive repairs and help make sure you get to your destination safely – especially with some winter long weekends coming up. Here are some handy tips on how to get your car winter-ready.
Keep your windows clean
The first barrier to good visibility is the windscreen and windows. Cold and wet conditions, where people have rubbed their fogged-up screen clear with their bare hands, can leave smears in certain light conditions.
It’s important to regularly clean all your windows, including the side and rear ones, to enhance your visibility in all directions. Cleaning them from the inside is just as important as the outside, to remove the accumulation of plasticisers, cigarette or vape smoke and other possible airborne contaminants.
Check your windscreen wiper blades
While we’re on the topic of good visibility, be sure to check the condition of your windscreen wiper blades. If they are old and worn, they will leave streaks all over your windscreen, which will decrease your visibility. You should also add detergent to your windscreen washer reservoir to help clean your windscreen, but make sure to leave some room, so you can top it up with warm water if it freezes overnight.
Leave your demister running for a while
On a cold and frosty morning, leave your demister on and let it work its magic for a few minutes. It’s essential to make sure you’re not driving off until you can see clearly through all your windows.
Don’t forget your lights
We rely even more on our lights in the winter months, so it’s a good time to check they’re all working. Switch on your lights and walk around your car, checking the headlights on low and high beam, the parking lights, tail lights and turn indicators, including the side repeater lamps. With the engine turned off, but the ignition switched on, place the transmission into reverse and check that the reversing lights are operating.
Give your battery some TLC
The colder weather can add more strain to your battery and cause it to fail sooner than expected. If your battery is more than three years old, ask your mechanic to test its ability to hold a charge. You should also check that the battery’s posts and connections are corrosion-free.
It’s also a good idea to keep a set of jumper cable leads in your car in case of an emergency.
Check your tyres
Tyre treads play an important role when the roads are wet. As the tread wears down, its efficiency to remove water from the contact patch is reduced, and if it’s beyond the legal tread depth limit, then it becomes a hazard.
Before winter takes hold, inspect your tyres for tread wear and measure the depth of the tread. If they’re heavily worn, get them replaced. And don’t forget to check the spare!
Another thing to check is the tyre pressure. It’s important to maintain the correct inflation pressure in the tyres. By doing so, you’ll ensure that the tread area in contact with the road is at its most effective. You can find the optimum tyre pressure for your car’s make and model in your owner’s manual or online.
Keep a winter emergency kit
Unfortunately, breakdowns happen even in winter and while you’re waiting for help, it can be quite miserable and cold. Keep an emergency supply kit in the boot of your car, so you can stay warm and safe. Items to include are a blanket, warm clothes, a power pack to charge your cell phone, a high-vis vest, a torch, a first aid kit, bottled water and long-life food. Winter emergency kits are sold in some auto supply shops but you can also put your own together.
Are you insured?
We can’t predict when breakdowns happen, but we can be prepared. Now is a good time to check your cover, especially if you’re planning on going on road trips during the colder months. Autolife offers Mechanical Repair Insurance that covers mechanical faults and repairs, like steering problems, engine repairs, battery replacements or auto-electrical issues. You’ll also have access to 24-hour roadside assistance.