Every winter, there are a slew of news reports about how we are due to face the harshest winter in decades, bringing icy winds and heavy snowfall. Although the chances are we won’t be battling the arctic conditions that the meteorologists are telling us, adverse weather conditions are guaranteed during the winter months, so it’s crucial to ensure that your car is fully prepared.
Check the battery
The most common cause of breakdowns in winter is a flat battery. You may notice that when it’s cold outside, it’s harder to turn over your engine. If the temperature drops below freezing, a car battery can lose around two thirds of its power. When combined with the increased need to use your headlights and heating, the battery can go flat before you know it. It’s worth getting it checked out by your local garage if you’re expecting to be driving a lot over winter.
Keep an eye on your coolant
Over the course of the year, many motorists keep their engine coolant topped up with water, meaning that any antifreeze added in from the previous winter will become diluted. To avoid any damage to your engine – and the subsequent cost of repairing it – make sure there is a 50/50 ratio of water and antifreeze.
Although you should be checking the tread of your tyres all year round, it’s particularly important in winter to avoid skidding on icy roads. The legal minimum depth is 1.6mm, but a depth of around 3mm offers better grip and can improve both braking and steering. Winter tyres are another option if you live in a rural area or plan on making a lot of journeys, as they are very effective on snow and ice. While you’re at it, check the tyre pressure, as the change in temperature can cause it to drop.
As the days in winter are so much shorter, you’re likely to spend much of your time driving in darkness, so you need to check that your lights are in full working order. Salt, dirt and grit from the roads can build up on headlights and reduce both the effectiveness and visibility to other cars, so clean them regularly. Check that your full-beam headlights, brake lights, indicators and fog lights are all working, and consider keeping spare bulbs in your car just in case. You’ll also need to inspect your windscreen for any chips or damage, as the cold weather can make them worse, and make sure your screen washer fluid is topped up with antifreeze.
Fingers crossed that you’ll never need it, but it’s worth keeping an emergency kit in your car in case you ever get stranded. Warm clothing, a high-vis vest, a first aid kit, a shovel, a spare phone charger, a torch and emergency rations are a good place to start.
Remember, if the weather conditions are particularly hazardous, the best and safest advice is to stay at home, but planning ahead can make a difference.
If your car looks like it’s not going to survive the winter, it could be time to look for a new one. We offer finance on a range of vehicles with a repayment plan that is tailored to suit you – get in touch with our team to find out what we can do for you.